A Lifelong Link With Two Waves

Two waves continue to crest in my thought. Both say ''yes'' to life.

The first of these waves broke in 1974. I had just stepped down off a sandbar south of Sanibel Island when I saw the sea heave toward me. At only a yard's distance, the wave uncoiled slowly and rose to my full height.

As the mounting water thinned up toward its imminent crest, for one delicious moment I remember seeing the sun through the wave's skin -- a pale green transparency on a level with my eyes. Then the looming mass collapsed baptismally over me. At no other time do I recall such a distinct relationship with a wave.

Until now.

Here I am, 21 years later -- kneeling undiminished at the same sea edge to examine a coquina that the sanderlings have missed.

It is nighttime. There is a full moon. And the sea is very still. All at once, a diminutive wave slides toward my occupied fingers. I have no time to lift the shell before the water curls across my hand in a whisper -- entangling the moonlight for a fraction of a second within its tiny crest. Sea blossom.

Two waves. The first broke with such explosive glee that, since then, my ties with the ocean have been linked more than ever with the cries of boyhood.

The second wave goes on being a simple, softening moment that I would wish to be true of any human relationship, a moment that inches its way serendipitously into my life like that smiling night sea.

Two affirmatives. The spaces between them are rich with ocean life. As I leave this island for another year, the ageless freshness of these two waves continues to break across my listening.

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