The energy of a place

When I am old and gray I want to have a house by the sea. And paint. With a lot of wonderful chums, good music, and booze around. And a damn good kitchen to cook in.

Ava Gardner

This quote by the late actress Ava Gardner has been a gently held vision when I think about how and where I might want to grow old. I envision long, lazy afternoons as conversations unfold, stall, and flow again. Like a bird playing with airstreams. All of it happening against the backdrop of the sea.

I’m not a great swimmer; I didn’t take my first swimming class until high school. Yet I am drawn to the edges of water. Perhaps it’s the epigenetic imprint of my ancestral roots, which are surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. That imprint may have left another artifact: my love of rock.

A few years ago, I curated a mini photo gallery in my office with images of favorite moments from my life.

Amalfi Coast, Italy
São Jorge, Açores
Big Sur, California

These places hold me in hypnotic trances.

The common threads are obvious when hold the images side-by-side. The vast ocean (or sea, for you pedantic readers) stretches out from a rugged coastline of rock softened by greenery.

Two qualities about these places bring me home to myself: stillness and expansiveness.

I am ambivalent about sandy beaches. I enjoy visiting them, particularly when they are nearly isolated. I am in awe of powerful crashing waves. But something about the relentless energy, the endless pounding, and rolling tumult of the waves on the beach can be exhausting. The sand, fickle and feckless under my feet, never allows me to get my bearings.

But the stoic stillness of rock — here is where I feel grounded, literally. I find peace at the edge of solid reliability and the expansive movement of the sea. This contrast is the perfect metaphor for my inner life.

Be still. Stillness reveals the secrets of eternity.

Lao Tzu

Photo by Ricardo Resende on Unsplash

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