This weekend brought scenes of uncommon beauty: pale green butterflies (cloudless sulphurs, perhaps?) tumbling like wind-flown pennants over the sea; a pelican grazing the Atlantic swells, so close that I saw his black marble-eye regarding my flightless body; sky the color of a child's blueberry stained fingertips, scraped with pale clouds.
We had driven up to Wrightsville beach in Joanne's convertible (which would not convert), a tumultuous and hot ride that dumped us rope-haired and rosy out on the sand. We swam, startled at how far the current carried us. Later, our eyes found Rex and Clay racing in the water, their heads bobbing like pin-tops. And when night came on his quiet chariot, we settled on food and conversation and dancing.
It wasn't until the second day that my mind found stillness. While my classmates read, filling their heads with strings of words on presentations and accounting, I watched the waves scrolling in. Ashley and I talked about how to be different in a program that has put 440 of us through the same month of activities. I recalled that oft-recited poem by Frost "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I / I took the one less traveled / and that has made all the difference." I began to wonder, what happens when you don't recognize which path is less traveled? What happens when they all look equally odd, equally familiar?
There I sat on a beach with a thousand other Labor Day vacationers, and I could make no argument to say that point in the path was untraveled. I might as well have been on a highway in Frost's world. I try to differentiate myself by thinking, "maybe I am the only one writing in my journal." It was giving me too much credit. Perhaps I'd landed on a frontage road, but still, there was no real difference.
I watched a child running in the sand, his young and awkward limbs being prodded into action by a brain constantly carving new connections, growing synapses by the second. It occurred to me then, that there is a second interpretation of the poem - that rather than looking at the paths most traveled by those who came before us, I ought to look at the paths I've traveled for myself. Perhaps my path is greatly different from another's, but if it's the same thing I've always done (regardless of how unique it makes me among peers), it's still the oft-traveled road. I carry my mind along the same thoroughfares, I wear the channels deeper and deeper and wonder why the banks start to fall in.
My own path made common. The slow slide toward routine.
These must not be.
So I dove the breakers and salted my skin. Watched the sinking sun turn everything toward texture. Crawled to shore.