Beneath My Feet
I find the pavement first with my toes. Its rough carapace provides my feet with a thrill not as often felt as I’d prefer. It’s been winter after all. My feet, tucked away. Today though, today I go barefoot.
It’s a strange thing to write about, talk about, think about. A strange thing to perceive. Yet here I am, perceiving my way from A to B. My feet, not only a mode of transportation, but a sensory receptor and a keen one at that. I’m feeling every particle under foot, every surprising, satisfying, sensation.
I walk across the street. The warm, uneven aggregate massaging my soles.
I walk over the grass causeway and onto the sidewalk. The grass is wet. It licks the sides of my feet as if it’s teasing me, begging me to linger. To stay standing here, indefinitely wrapped in its cool, cushioned bosom. But if I’m to become imprisoned by sensation I’d choose the wrath of warm and dry before that of cold and damp. I shiver and step onto the unforgiving sidewalk. Again, warmth. My feet relax and begin to amble over the smooth skin of the sidewalk. A fallen leaf crunches and disintegrates under foot. For a moment, a salty scent steals my attention and my pace quickens.
I cross another street and jog across a dauntingly large patch of grass, still damp, still dangerous.
Here, I’m on another sidewalk. Less even, less smooth. Pieces of rock lay strewn across its core. Landmines.
I’ve come this far. I’ve been drawn to this place. My feet are eager to bound ahead into the endless swell of feldspar, magnetite, and quartz that lies before me. I can hear the ocean calling.
At first the change is gradual, concrete becomes dirt, dirt becomes less resistant, then the sand swallows up the end of the path. It’s warmth surprises me. As does its inexplicably soft demeanor. It reaches out yet it doesn’t take hold.
I sink into a small dune, then another, and another. With each step my toes are as eager as ever to sink into another mound of affectionate earth. Occasionally a small piece of debris jabs me gently, a subtle reminder of my frailty.
The sand slopes toward the water and grows colder, wetter, less jovial. I stand here for awhile, contemplating. My next step is pure bliss. Into the swash my toes take me! I can see the swell approaching, I’m watching it for signs of ferocity. The soles of my feet feel coldness. The sand here, in this specific spot is so cold. The wave comes in and breaks without much adieu. I can hardly hear its whisper. In its advance, it’s eerily silent. Creeping, slower with each second it rushes upon sand still soaked from its predecessor and inches itself towards me. With a final sweep it covers my feet entirely, purposefully. A shooting sensation! My feet must have been lulled to sleep by the obliging warmth of the sand behind me. For this is immediate and revitalizing!
The ocean wraps its frigid, powerful tentacles around my ankles and for a moment or two, my mind is clear. I’m not only staring out at a glassy ocean, I’m staring beyond the horizon, beyond myself, beyond the little things that weigh us down. Although this ocean, this world, is complicated it yearns to be understood, to be loved. Its vulnerability is striking; its magic, captivating; its secrets, provocative.