In the Sand

Every morning, the sun slips into the sky, the cold water moves itself and the old man is summoned. He’s gathered to the edge of the beach; he doesn’t gaze at the living ocean or the red giant’s rising, but fixates on the sand. He holds a long, metal arm with a flat head hovering above the sand, and walks slowly down the edge, barely avoiding the water’s receding touch. He searches and the metal arm helps him see. Sometimes, the arm alerts him with a pinging noise; this is when the old man slowly bends down and digs at the sand with a tiny shovel. Some metallic object is uncovered and pulled from obscurity, for now, and is dropped into the old man’s pocket. The old man continues on, no change in expression, always seeking a treasure that sparkles in his skull. A few more treasures and then the old man’s body fails, dies. But it doesn’t matter—the old man is replaced; another old man with a metal arm becomes tethered to the same march along the sand. The essence of this scene is greater than you and I.

This scene, or one like it, will move along even as its original players drift from the spotlight; it may come across differently, but the import will be sustained. It may not be an old man, or his imperishable search, but those things are just vessels anyway. Meaning will touch you by other means. The old man’s searching, which has remained with me through the years, will dissipate once I die, but others will see what I saw in other things, and live with it. It’s the meaning of the image that will live longer than me, its mere recipient. But for now, the old man remains, perpetually searching the sand because my mind deems it so for, like the old man, I too grasp for something.

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