Somewhere in the porous matter of the mind, a though endures, an echo through time of a point when everything coalesced to a moment of clarity, of existing and being aware of that existence, rather than taking it for granted. Carefully probing through the archaeological strata of thought, this remembrance prevails and demands to be retold in the less than perfect medium of language.
The problem with that is that I don’t have the language, by which I mean I do but I didn’t at the time. There is a theory I read about in Dr Glenn A. Bassett’s fascinating book WordPlay that states (and I am recalling this from memory as the book is packed away) that we can only recall what we could describe in words known to us at the time, so the younger you are the less chance you have of solid memories as the vocabulary base you had recedes as you go further back.
One particular day I visited Robin Hood’s Bay, which is the classic small village clinging onto the Yorkshire coastline, it has narrow streets, plenty of cobbles and all the usual things you would expect in such a town, cliffs, predatory seagulls, old houses, local craft shops and boats bobbing up and down in the bay. It sounds idyllic, which is why it’s popular, a boon and a bane for the locals one would expect. My true memory of that day though was the ocean, something that seems to pull at us all, the yearning to be beside the seaside.
The tide was in that day and so what else to do but enjoy the ocean, the spray, the gentle sounds of water gliding back and forth. It is always something that gives me pure pleasure but this time it allowed me to exist in the moment as it were, to perfectly appreciate all around me, the small pleasures in life that are fascinating and yet so humble.
It started with a wave, a cascade of water spiralling back in on itself, the sun glinting off the back of its ever-changing apex giving it a golden back accompanied by the pleasing sound of that journey’s end. The sound of many waves crashing and splashing on the shore, energy spent. The endless repetition of both sound and view is mesmerising, since time immemorial this has been witnessed and ingrained into the human consciousness, a source of innumerable mysteries.
As the sea draws back to make another infinitesimal assault at the village, it reveals a treasure, rock pools, each its only micro galaxy with living creatures and separated by spaces, the water only allows for a quick survey, making one feel like a space probe collecting images to send to the brain for later study.
This was my fixed point around which all of nature swirled, the other people interacting with the world didn’t seem to notice it which made it my personal pleasure, a secret hidden in plain sight, a knowing wink from nature. I wonder how many of these I have missed over the years, I don’t mind as long as somebody else has their secret memories even if they didn’t know it until much later.