Posted by: alegra22 | November 25, 2009

Refusing the Shore

Dancing at the edge

For years, I have time and time again given a nod to the wisdom of the saying ‘life is a journey not a destination’. A nod that translated into something like this:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I totally get that. I mean, I really, really want to experience that. Which is why I am running so fast to get to my destination. So I can relax and enjoy the journey.

In my own dyslexic fashion I truly believed that striving towards some future goal was going to bring greater security to my present moment so that I could relax and enjoy the ride. Periodically life has held me still long enough, captivated me in some way that allowed me to stop, take a breath, and sink into my life – the past and the future collapsing into a moment of watching my children chase their shadows or feeling the sand shift beneath my feet in the shore break. In those moments, I would rest. I would get ‘it’ –  the understanding that life was unfolding exactly as it should.

Then the moment would pass.

I would declare,  “Well that was a great and rejuvenating moment of inspiration. But now it is back to work with me. After all, there are things to be done to make sure that the future contains more of these great moments!”

Tonight I have been reflecting on how the deepest shifts in my way of being in the world sneak up on me. They never arrive from my own efforts. And believe me, I have always  been a sucker for thinking that I might impress life with my industry. In the past, I have even tried the opposite approach. I tried to attract peace by emptying myself of all passions. I tried to earn grace by meditating for hours, stripping my life of all of the things no Spanish-blooded woman should ever deny herself. Things like liquid eyeliner, listening to eighties compilation CDs, playing video games, going dancing, or drinking bowl-sized mugs of coffee and cream every morning.

These days I often resort to wild tap-dancing and doing all of my own stunts. I fling open the door on my fears and sing at the top of my lungs to try to scare them off. All in the hope that life will pay attention and transform those parts of myself that are dragging along unnecessary luggage and clutching an outdated itinerary.

But lately, tap-dancing has been difficult. I prefer to nap.

Doing my own stunts doesn’t work when I am 36 weeks pregnant.

Worrying about failing the opportunities that have been presented to me (such as finishing my masters) has given way to fear of missing a moment with my children. Instead of locking myself away in my room to try to get as much work done as possible, I have wanted to sit and listen to Sol tell me about the creation of ‘sand dudes’ (sand dunes) and to show me how fast his ‘ginger turtle’ (ninja turtle) shoes can make him run. When I have hit a wall with the novel, instead of hitting my head against it, I have gone to the beach to dig a hole in the sand, let my belly rest, and watched my children become friends. At night, I curl up on the couch with my husband, lulled like a lizard in the sun by the way he will stroke my feet for two hours straight if I don’t get up and move. I scribble a few notes before falling asleep. The novel comes together line by line and somehow I am beginning to trust that is exactly the way it should be.

For about two weeks I was having nightmares about sharks chasing me out of the ocean. Either that, or I would be standing on the shore watching the surfers convinced that if I paddled out I would drown. In those nightmares I gave up. I said, “The sharks will eat me. I will be attacked, it is inevitable. I don’t have what it takes, I will drown.”

In my dreams, I surrendered to defeat. I allowed myself to be bullied by my fears.

Each time I woke up from one of those dreams, I sat up in bed and declared:

Screw that! I’d rather lose my leg to a shark or swallow a gallon of saltwater. I am not sitting on the shore.

No matter how many sharks there are in the water, no matter how many times the waves will hold me down, I can not give up. So why worry? There is no point in looking down at the shadows moving beneath my feet when there are waves lifting up on the horizon. Worrying about how long a wave will hold me down will not bring me to the surface any faster. And, I am not sitting on the shore. I belong out there, riding above the shadows. I belong beneath the waves holding my breath.

As the days bring us to Joaquin’s birth seem to slip out from beneath me like the tide I realize that there are so many things I could fear but somehow I can’t summon the conviction. I can only summon the gratitude that I am on this journey.






  1. beautiful. I’m always enamored with your way to explain your reality. I’m still working to figure mine out. This is definitely a scary time as very big things start to become very real things. A masters doesn’t seem to really become ‘real’ until right near the end when you must tie it’s shoelaces and send it off. Do you think it’s a similar thing with having a baby? After 2, I wouldn’t think so, but perhaps there is some other shift in perception?

    Sending you many netted-to-help-slow-down-time and live-action-oppressive-shark-pounding hugsies.

    • It is in my explaining that I figure it out for myself!
      And yes, I think that a masters/gestating a baby is a similar thing – any creative act. There is so much that goes on internally, hidden away, and then suddenly it all begins to start kicking and making its presence known and that in one way or another…this big boy is going to have to get out!

  2. perfect

    • Hello you! Happy Thanksgiving.

  3. I admire you; to be honest, I am petrified of being in the ocean knowing some living thing might be down there about to get me, lurking around my feet…but then, I have an unquenchable fear of flying maybe I’m hopeless.

    Hope your delivery goes smooth and everything turns out okay..I remember the day you found out..and now here you are…life is a beautiful blur it is.

    Happy Thanksgiving and blessings to you from NoCA : )

    • Life IS a beautiful blur!
      I think more and more I am realizing how quickly it all passes and the only way to slow it down is to let go and allow it to take me along with it.

      I have always had a deep fear of sharks – I think it started when I was tricked into seeing Jaws in 3D by a young friend I had as a child. I thought I was going to see a cartoon! But, the thing is, I had an equally powerful desire to be a mermaid and have the ability to fly. What better way to describe a surfer? Flying on the face of the wave, diving under the waves with a flick of my tail. And my other dreams are the same, the waves are always guarded by an equal fear of sharks, whether it has been writing goals, parenthood, marriage, etc.

      I have learned to love those bogeyman that come cruising in the form of sharks. As Isabel Allende wrote in one of her recent memoirs, a good dose of terror does wonders for stimulating the imagination!


  4. This was beautiful. It made my chest/heart all warm and soft. There is no greater gift you can give your child(ren) than to listen to how fast ginger shoes can make them go or watching their relationship blossom into something wonderful. You are their anchor, the being who prepares the way for adulthood with enormous love creating happy memories to take them through the long, long nights of adulthood. With the way you are evolving, I believe the story will write itself! And, remember, you are living in a state of grace. You can never go down the drain.

    • That is such a perfect quote to summarize this pregnancy! I am sitting here at home mulling over the last five years of parenthood in an attempt to write the Motherhood Muse column and how to condense what my children have brought into my life in less than a 1000 words. And, Joaquin’s message seems to be: relax, enjoy, you’ll never go down the drain.

      It is like something has clicked into place with this pregnancy and I truly get that there is nothing greater I can do with my life than love my children. At the end of my days, I no longer fear that I am going to be confronted with not having achieved certain goals because I limited myself and didn’t try…now, I am really beginning to understand that the quality of my days will be measured by the love that existed in my relationships and nothing more.

      I love you mama.

  5. Your joy in embracing the wonder of your children is something that will open doors in your mind, heart and soul that will lead you into places that are so beautiful you will often ache with the beauty of it all. I love you too. And, I thank you for taking my heart and soul into such beutiful places.

  6. Hi Alegra,

    Bad forum-buddy me: this is my first trip to your blog, but certainly won’t be the last.

    We’re getting ready for #2 to come a’calling in March, (also a boy). My wife would also like to hire a stunt-double for the pregnancy phase, but alas, no takers.

    Look forward to more reads and writes here.


    • It is great to see you over here! I have about 6 friends who are due with babies in March – most of them first time Moms. My son was born March 22 – it is a great month for little boys :o)

  7. I’ve just discovered your blog. Lovely.

    • So glad you found me!

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