We have had an abnormal influx of dying Humboldt squid wash up on the beach at Rio Del Mar. I had noticed about a half dozen of them on Sunday, then heard of the event on the local news, so came back yesterday for a better look. Sure enough, I must have seen two or three hundred. Each is about eighteen inches long, a dark red in color, with tentacles all bunched together, as they lie twisted up in piles of kelp that lay on the sand. A very human-looking eye peers out at me from each of them as I walk around them. I speculate with other beach goers about the cause for so many coming in all at once, but nobody has the correct answer. I hike this same stretch of beach quite frequently and have never seen even one.
I would be hiking this beach even if there were no such wild display of squid. The weather, the promise of warm sun, always persuades me to come out of my dwelling place on the edge of the forest, and engage in the brightness of the day. The hard-packed sand this time of year contains sea glass, so I pick up a handful, piece by piece, for those in the family who like to string jewelry. But more than that, I renew my own stringed attachment with the sea. On warm days like this in early winter, when the crowds have gone and the strong winds of early spring have not yet found their way south, I seem to learn about myself, or at least find more comfort within. All my vital juices seem to flow in closer harmony; nothing inside feels out of balance. Even if the squid are conforming to some irregular cycle, I find a bubble of energy in my own. Often when I come to the sea I don’t find this restorative power in operation, then, serendipitously, on such fine days as this, I feel myself exploding with thoughts and enthusiasm for living.
The lower tide, adhering to a rhythm with the approaching solstice, shows me more of the beach than I might otherwise see. Pools of saltwater lay trapped out on shallow flats, dimpled with ripples of water working a path out to the bigger, grander body. The thought of these odd, out-of-place squid, with their giant eyeballs turned upward, as if watching me, give me the idea that all the sea complements the notion of a universal consciousness. Maybe that is the source of my exuberance for this day, finding that I have connected with the deeper mind that we all share, the one that provides a sense of well-being and happiness, one from which I believe we all have our genesis.
Have the eyes of the sea come washing in, causing me to take a careful look? I’m no oceanologist or marine biologist, but I move through this seascape uncovering large and mysterious facts. My understanding of reality does not come to me through scientific knowledge acquired in lectures or books, but through intuition and feeling. For an hour or two of this wonderful afternoon, I feel a portion of the sea within me riding an out-bound tide, into a vastness where my own guarded self is so happily forgotten, a pontiff momentarily entrusted with a sacred ceremony.