The Sounds of the Gulf of Mexico

 

IMG_1407I stand on the pier listening to the sounds of the Gulf of Mexico. It’s always overwhelmed me just to see the Gulf or any part of the ocean. When I get accustomed to seeing it, then I begin to listen to its sounds. There are far more sounds than sights.

The Gulf is generally a calm body of water. If you just listen to the sound of the water, you will hear it gently lapping at the beach or whatever lies at its edge. Other places, such as the island where I live part-time, it laps at the mangroves trees along its banks. Mangrove forests surround parts of my island. They serve as fish hatcheries, protection from hurricanes for the island, and many other purposes in tropical areas. If the tide is coming in and you are at an area where there are rocky beaches, the water sounds like it is slapping the rocks with that sound of slapping turning into almost a cracking sound as the tide comes in faster and faster.

If you are facing the Gulf and not a bay off the Gulf, the sound differs. If the tide is coming in and hitting rocks or a sea wall, you hear a percussive sound, almost a booming. If the Gulf is stirred up due to a storm, the sound becomes almost thunderous and to some, very exciting.

The sound of the Gulf or any part of the ocean appeals to something primitive, perhaps embryonic or even evolutionary, in most of us. It soothes my moods and evens out my temperament. It makes me feel at home.

#SoCS – 04/15/2017

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Memories and Dreams

When I lean over the railing of the pier and look into the Gulf of Mexico, the surface is ultrasmooth. What I see is the reflection of my memories and the mirage of my dreams. They overlap as the water moves and it becomes hard for me to tell what is a memory and what is a dream. I think some may be the same. I hope not. It’s time to unpack my baggage, as a friend of mine would say, and move past the memories. Try to make my dreams happen.

I have to ask myself if it’s too late. Is it too late for me emotionally? Are the emotions that support those dreams used up now? Maybe it’s just too late physically. Maybe I’m too old to have the dreams of a younger woman. I’ve never thought that before. It’s not like me to think that. I seem to be feeling my age recently, whatever that means. That’s also not like me. It’s worrisome.

There are always people in your life who are small-minded, petty, and jealous. I spent many years of my life avoiding those people. In the last few years, I forgot what I knew to be true. I cannot deal with such people and I let them back into my life. I have learned my lesson.

I still have dreams. Big dreams, in fact. I also have memories and, often, they get in the way. My memories that get in the way really have nothing to do with my dreams. My memories are of emotional things. People, places. Failed relationships. My dreams for the future are not about people, places, or relationships. They are dreams just for me. Successes professionally are my primary dreams. How can my memories of people and failed relationships possibly get in the way of professional successes?

I’m sure I don’t have to explain that to most of you. Repeated emotional failures can break down self-esteem and self-esteem affects every facet of your life, including your professional life. I have always had the ability to put emotional failures away in a box in my head and heart and go on with my life, including my professional life. As I get older, that ability seems to be escaping me. I find that very distressing. Exposing myself to small-minded people did not help me, but I have fixed that problem now.

Memories and dreams. Where do memories stop and dreams start? Is there really a clear-cut, definitive line?

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The Old Man by the Sea

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The old man stood on the pier. He was there at high tide. He was there at low tide. He particularly liked to be there at sunset. He seemed to know everyone and everyone seemed to know him. If you walked by him on the pier, you wouldn’t have found anything particularly physically special about this man. He was more than middle-aged. Animated in his physical movements. Tall in stature. He seemed to make an effort to meet most people who frequented the pier.

Joy began to talk to him about the manatees in the water. He heard her mention them and pointed out the spot to her where she might see them. He was amusing and both she and Glen enjoyed talking with him. She felt like he was doing stand-up comedy. Finally, Glen went off to talk with one of the fishermen on the pier. Joy enjoyed speaking to the old man. She sought out intellectual conversations whenever the opportunity arose. He certainly fulfilled that need for her. At first, she snapped pictures of the beautiful sunset as they talked.

He was the kind of person you felt like you had known forever. You wished you had known him forever. He was wise. Kind. One of Joy’s first impressions was that his eyes seemed to look right through her, right to her heart and soul. She found that interesting, but disconcerting. They talked a bit about their work and each downplayed what they had done in their past life, before retirement. She still did not know exactly what the old man did in his former life. He learned a bit more about her, but not specifics. Somehow, those things didn’t seem important when they were talking. They talked about deeper things, although they kept it lighthearted in tone.

The sun set and the old man told her about some of the creatures of the night that came to the pier. The night heron who tried to steal the fisherman’s catch. The great egret who stood at the far end of the pier and watched the action. The manatees. The dolphins. Joy felt that he had so much more to share with her that they could talk forever.

The old man introduced her to many people who came to the pier and told her about them. What they did, who they were, how they fit in his life. She had never really met anyone like him. Joy’s career had been almost exclusively male-dominated. She had not only worked mostly with men, but had male friends, all her life. She enjoyed the company of men, often more than women. She was comfortable.

Joy found herself drawn to this man of the sea, drawn to his interesting observations about life. She liked to listen to him and would have liked to talk with him more, but there was no opportunity.

One day she went to the pier at high tide. Her worst fear had come true. The old man  wasn’t there. She went back at low tide, then at sunset. No sign of him. She repeated that pattern for many days. She felt a deep sense of loss. Maybe someday he’ll be back, she thought.

It had been a long time since Joy had let anyone close in any way. The old man of the sea had touched her soul. She didn’t even know his name.

Copyright Rosemary Carlson 2017

*Photo Credit to Last Door Down the Hall Blog