This past wekened my parents, Bianca and I visited Santa Cruz, CA for a Posner family reunion (you can see all the photos here). The reunion was fun and interesting, but my favorite part of the trip was just walking around a coastal city in Northern California. The weather was perfect for me–50s to 60s, with fog in the morning and sunshine the rest of the day. Our hotel was right on the beach and near the Boardwalk; we took a stroll along it and spent a while watching Sea Lions barking and trying to jump up onto wooden beams under the pier.
As I soaked it all in–the ocean, the sand, the waves, the Sea Lions, the fishermen–I started thinking about how there is this whole world of which we are almost entirely unaware during our daily lives. But if you look out at the horizon, to the point where the sheet of ocean tucks under the blanket of horizon, you can start to imagine the mystery and magic filling the depths below. These thoughts really took shape when we visited the Monterey Aquarium, where we saw species after species of bizarre, fascinating and beautiful creatures, from Sea Lions to Jelly Fish to Sea Horses.
So much of what we see and think about and experience revolves around the small orbit of our geographic and psychological lives; then, suddenly, a wall turns into a window and we see an entirely new perspective. Time and the age of the Earth stretch out to their proper length when you consider all the mutations, all the evolution, all the geologic and cosmic change that had to take place in order for a male Sea Horse to be able to give birth to little Sea Horses. You pause, you observe, you take a deep breath, you return to your day-to-day, and what happens next defines you: there are those that leave the experience behind, and those that infuse it, incense-like, into the perennial Tomorrow.
Now I am back home. Work beckons; there is laundry to be washed, groceries to purchase; and innumerable minutae crowd around me like gnats on a summer evening. And I am instantly absorbed–I have things to do! Yet somewhere within me, almost like the wondrous glow and flashes of light that pulsate from so many sea creatures, pulses a more profound sense of wonder at the tenuousness and the luminsecnce inherent in life. One day I will die. One day the Earth will be swallowed by the sun and disappear, and other Earths and other suns will sprout up elsewhere. Still, I can’t help but entertain the notion that something permanent is lodged at the core of every cell in my body, at the place from which flows my ability to breath, to eat, to think, to love, to feel, to sleep; that this something is connected to the aforementioned sense of wonder; that this something has always been and always will be; and that this something is the source of my freedom, my hope, my love, my dreams, my despair, and my dedication to fighting for justice.