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A Series of Approximations

Another excerpt from the book.

Tom Allen’s cliff house above Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur was full of wonders and oddities and one of the reasons Jax liked to visit even though there were no typical kid things to do. This weekend—this birthday of Jax was different. All three of them were in a state of transition. Jax was leaving the single digits of childhood, Sara had begun a year of metamorphosis unsure if she would emerge a butterfly, and Tom had stepped out onto the rocky edge of madness. The essence of all that could be seen as transformative, but it was as unstable as the water below.

Life on the cliff could be pure and simple—private beach, waterfall, walks in the Redwoods, panoramic view of the Pacific, and it was at one time. When she first met Tom five years ago, he was dynamic and vital with the fresh thoughts of a man empowered by new discoveries.

His wide smile against the handsome and tanned face was an anesthetic to Sara—calming her anxieties. At first they were lovers and hours would pass gently as he was as slow and intricate in lovemaking as he was in map-making. Every line was drawn with care—every movement of his hand was a work of art. He would stroke her hair softly for hours in front of the fireplace as they lay in each other’s arms.

Slowly over next year, the relationship grew into a mosaic—a composite of fragile ideas that sometimes bordered on panic. They felt the world like the unwinding of a great labyrinth.

Journal entry –  There were no choices on our path. We imagined ourselves in the middle of a glorious tangle, with a string in our hands that is the beginning of a great labyrinth. As we move, it spirals and transforms into something unrecognizable—yet it feels like a treasure we want to hold to our bodies. We needed a map we could touch to lead us and saw the spiral as both the way in and the way out of the darkness.

Tom and Sara placed deliberate footsteps on the crude stone steps. He had carved out the perilous winding path and placed those stones years ago when his mother was still active and alert. She would walk to the half way point where he had dug a notch into the hillside—forcing the ice plant into submission so he could set a redwood bench and table. She called it her think spot. The bench looked out over the water like a hawk—a bird’s view of the world—a focused and keen knowledge of absolute truth. Sitting there was homage—recognition paid to the unknown that came before and will survive after—survival in the purest form. When the last breath of the last tiny creature is drawn and the skies are red and spewing rage, the ice plant and the ocean will shake hands and continue as if it was known all along.

Tom took Sara’s arm and guided her down the last deep step to the narrow rocky cove. It swirled with dark water and foamy bursts that moved in all directions and beat the cliff face every high tide. This was the rugged coast, often covered in a gray haze or deep fog—the atmosphere that reminded everyone that this was not home. This place was in control. You could exist here but never truly own it. It made its own way and all anyone could do was carve out a fragment—a notch for your structure or path as long as you bent to its will. It was beautiful beyond words, but gods lived here and would only allow slim permissions.