It called me this morning, the roughest waves we’ve experienced since we arrived. I love riding tumultuous seas – getting tossed about by their fury: me vs. the ocean. I heeded its call, step by step, until I found myself facing the pounding surf… alone on the beach.
Alone… but for a single pelican standing at the water’s edge watching me.
“Try it, man,” he urged with a stupid, burned-out surfer accent. “It’s great out there.”
I scowled. I hate pelicans.
Pelicans don’t encourage, pelicans mock with their smarmy smiling bills.
I was dubious of his intentions. Something’s up, I thought.
“What’s your problem, dude?” the foul pelican asked.
“I’m just not fond of your kind,” I answered. “Since I’ve been coming to Florida I’ve had two days ruined with your messy bombs.”
“Teehee. Yeah, we do that,” he laughed. “But seriously, look at those waves. You’ll never have another chance like this!”
Despite my desire to do the exact opposite of whatever the lousy pelican wanted, I knew I must enter. The sea had called me, after all.
I waded in and it beat me back. The waves were relentless, pouring over me and pushing me toward the shore. I had trouble making it through their tenacious pummeling to reach the sandbar where the activity was at its best. But I made it. I stumbled upon it and rode wave after wave until the ocean had no choice but to submit to me.
And there was ultimate peace.
I wiped my eyes and faced out toward the vast expanse when I felt the strong pull of the undertow at my feet. It dragged me mercilessly forward until I became aware of the ocean’s plot. It had drawn me in. I felt a beautiful calmness. Time froze and I think I heard the Dali Lama whisper words of serenity in my ear while I watched a wall of saltwater mounting a hundred yards away. It rose up ten feet, then twenty, then it blocked the sun just before it pounded on my head in a futile attempt to break me.
I tumbled over and over before I saw something. Only I didn’t see it because my eyes were closed in the foam – I felt it in my soul and I reached out for what I am certain was an extended hand that pulled me atop this wave. Once astride the water I treated it like a worn-out bronco and rode it all the way to the beach where I washed up next to the dirty pelican, who hadn’t moved from his spot.
The water, humiliated and defeated, receded while I rose to full height, raised my hands victoriously and shouted,
“I own the sea!”
The pelican, as pelicans do, laughed at me.
“You own nothing, man,” it said. Spreading its wings, that nasty bird rose off of the sand, dropped an enormous load on my head, and flew off chuckling. I swear I heard the start of Wagner’s Flight of the Valkyrie in the distance.
I hate pelicans.