challenging the sea

I used to be scared to death of walking on piers.

It was a thing related to scale; not a fear of tiny docks you’d moor a fishing boat to but of the large above-ocean boardwalks of Southern California.  There were a few near-ish our house when we lived there in my youth, and occasionally we’d visit.  I’d walk so cautiously, all the while looking down through sometimes inch-wide cracks between timbers at the waves rolling slowly in so far below.

The whole construction seemed to tenuous to me.  Here’s these stupid overly-confident humans… they are going to cut down trees and build a stick-bridge out into an environment they cannot natively survive in.  Like I shouldn’t be walking there; like the whole thing was just a bad idea.  The bravado of our race is summed-up by things like piers.  Fleeting instantiations of sentient meat that do ridiculously stupid things like shoot themselves into space and invent fireproof clothing and build roads though hulking mountains of stone.  The cocksure novelty is perfectly human.

The cries of gulls wheeling above, the creosote pungent in the air, the stiff breeze off the water – all doom-inspiring to me.  The farther I walked out to sea the more certain I became that a fall would mean death.  No one could save me down there.  If the fall didn’t take care of it I’d surely be washed into the barnacle-encrusted pilings and shred to bits; if not that then a simple drowning.  It all felt so… so creaky.  Like the whole thing was held together with spit and mud and every wave withstood was another miracle.

Who challenges the sea?  A fool, that’s who.


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