I was born on an island. And like all islands, it was surrounded by water. But did I fully appreciate it? As with a lot of things in life, no, of course not. It was something taken for granted, that it was always there. Not that I was a keen swimmer or loved to dive into the ocean now and then. Far from it. I wished that I could swim but mostly I splashed around in the water, keeping to the shallow end of the pool. And if I were in the sea, I made sure that my toes could always touch the ocean floor. But I loved to glide against the water on my back, floating my cares away. I couldn't tread water nor swim very well but I could at least float on my back. But even that didn't last for very long as I was afraid that the water would rush over my face and I would quickly struggle to an upright position in the water.
Now I miss the ocean. I miss watching the boats and tankers, ships loading and unloading on the docks. Waves lapping against the rocks. There were good times, entertaining, even instructional. It wasn't all bad. And I realise now that I was learning, however slowly, even though I was outside of the classroom. The mind captures the images and stores them away and they're pushed so far back that one recalls them years later when one is far away and longing for what once was. There are no special moments; there are just moments. I miss being able to see the burning orange sun as I stand in a crowded bus, making my way home in the evening. And I remember being awed by it even then. These days, I don't miss the crowded buses. Not really. And I am awed by other sights and sounds. But those moments still stay with me.
When I was a young girl, I observed and I made myself heard even though I also hid and I was silenced. And there were times when I shared an interest with my brothers such as the time my two oldest brothers and I seemed to really like the song, Love Is All There Is, from the motion picture, A Perfect Couple. I never saw the movie but I remember listening to some of the music. And my second oldest brother was playing Love Is All There Is one day and the music drifted downstairs and I wanted to sing along to it. Then my brother shut the bedroom door and I couldn't hear it anymore.
The song was about love and I suppose we were all looking for love, as young as we were. And in my own starry-eyed way, dreaming and waiting for my prince to come, I could identify with some of the lyrics. And as I've discovered along the way, there are so many ways to love. There isn't only romantic love. Agape. Eros. Words that I discovered later. And I knew that one could also love one's family members but not always have the words to express how they feel. Or the words are cloaked in shyness. Or one could love one's father and yet hate him at the same time. Love and hate. How could they go together? Who knows but they did. For a while. Or what about loving and being loved by one's spouse? Love is a feeling but it is also a choice, a decision to love. Can one even speak about the miracle of love? Or can love bring about miracles?
When I was in my twenties, I wrote a story and ended it with, "They had faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love." Of course those words were not mine. I wasn't being very original but I didn't care. I included those words because they were true. And it seemed an appropriate way to end the story.
Now I am an older woman and I still can't tread water to save my life. Excursions to the ocean are rare. So instead of being awed by the majesty of the waves pounding against the rocks or the breathtaking sunset, I am instead awed by God's creation around me as I sit surrounded by trees -- sentinels! -- and listen to the birds singing in the trees. And they are indeed singing and sometimes one feels compelled to sing along with them, wanting to add to the beauty of their song. But of course my whistling is nowhere as perfect and maybe I'm being intrusive so I might as well shut my mouth and just listen. The concert is free, after all. There is also a gaiety and, at the same time, serenity about it and no crowds to deal with. What more can one ask for?
I am far from my brothers. I am far from all things that were once familiar. And there are days when my heart aches for that. But at least I know that there is always love. Sometimes it is whispered, sometimes it is said out loud. Sometimes it's worded a little differently. And sometimes it's written down and never read by the one it was intended for.