Heat lightning fills the clouds with a violet hue in a chain reaction that moves around the sky in a nearly coordinated effort whose pattern seems to just escape you, no matter how long you stare at it. It is a symphony that carries across the sky, and does so without a sound; the lack of accompanying thunder would seem ironic were this not made up for by the crashing of the surf and its relentless pursuit of the shore. This is the nature of the beach.
I have recently put a great task behind me, and for someone like myself, at least, there is no greater way to put things in perspective than to find something that makes you feel comparatively insignificant. This is not an insult; just a matter of scale. So I come to the ocean, and unlike so many other things, it never fails me. Then again, it doesn't care. It just fills in the spaces in my soul as easily as it does the spaces between grains of sand, and in the same volume. I wonder why the place isn't more crowded, even at the hour I write this.
I must admit, though...while some personal events of this year have left scars no surgeon could hide, I can't help but think of the last few days of work before I left. A truly unique sense of joy flowed through otherwise frustratingly monotonous hallways. It was promotion time.
Unlike the military, there are only three promotable ranks in my particular department. And also unlike the military, slots are not filled as they become available. They are filled en masse, and occasionally this takes months, and in some instances, even years. After becoming used to going without positions of leadership that serve the obvious purpose, and have a habit of keeping people employed, this doesn’t mean as much to the newest generations coming aboard. Especially in an era where pensions and benefits are always at risk.
This relates to something known as "morale,” an elusive creature whose seed rarely finds purchase in this line of work for reasons beyond counting. But in the extremely rare times the promotions occur, there is a joy in the hallways that is comparable to congratulating someone on a new birth in the family. And in a way, that's exactly what it is.
Occurring five and 10 years apart, these promotions set a new course in the officers’ lives, more often than not. Roles are changed, and comfort zones are rearranged like flakes in a snow globe. And it is good.
Sure, there is bitterness for the ones that did not receive promotion, and for those who are too bitter to enjoy something positive happening to anyone other than themselves, but it is still a welcome break from a job that is a mental (and political) meat grinder more often than not.
Darkness often only brings out similarly shaded thoughts of my own, but on this night of reflection, peace, and decompression...it is a very pleasant change to think about new beginnings for these few.
And perhaps that is the lesson the ocean is trying to teach me after a year of horrible endings: The thought of new beginnings.
...Or it's just warning me about the possibility of electrocution.
I'll take my chances on both, Heh.