Papal Pigeon

Directly from the mind of a peaceful warrior, a surfer, musician, photographer, poet and lover of all things True and Beautiful.

Category: Prose

Cliche

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I surf. I cannot be bothered with class when the waves are good- especially classes at 8 in the morning when there just isn’t possibly enough time to surf at sunrise and make it back to campus. 

Some of the greatest days of my life have begun with a cold drive to the beach in the pre-dawn darkness after a healthy snowfall and plentiful warnings on the television set to stay inside until the plowmen have done their jobs. No one’s on the road, you can see your breath inside your car, and there’s this things that have changed. Heaven, in its virgin white outfit at your feet and the great unknown both above and before you. The buoys look good, the wind is calm, my boards are waxed, and I’m driving 65 through residential streets because I’ve grown up driving on these streets and I’ve learned from the best. In snow, your foot always has to be on the gas- the brake is often your greatest enemy, causing sliding and slipping and fishtailing into guardrails and ditches. But no, with a solid foot on the gas, your wheels assert themselves and bully the icy roads into submission.

 

On the coldest of days, I get up at 4, with a feeling not unlike the feeling of youth on Christmas morning, and put on a thick and heavy neoprene suit that hasn’t had time to dry from the night before, and is literally the coldest single thing you can imagine as it cups and clings to every possible part of your body that you could imagine being very uncomfortable to be so cold so early in the morning. It’s so thick and heavy you can only put it on half way, so that you can drive. Over the wet wetsuit goes sweatpants and thick sock and many layers and a heavy coat and mittens and boots- sometimes to check the waves where I live requires walking through waist deep snow. That’s just to see the waves- to walk over the brim of rocks or through somebody’s summer cottage backyard can often be it’s own fun little journey. But it’s all totally necessary to make it in the water for sunrise.

Sunrise is the greatest time of day if you’re a surfer and the waves are up. On a clear day, with a few cumulous clouds spotted about the sky, my friends and I often say we get to high-five god. It’s the most magical sight you’ve never seen. To see the ocean turn alive with multiple rows of cold gray swell marching towards the beach and building and growing taller and finally detonating and exploding over shallow rocks, coupled with golden rays of sunlight peaking over the horizon and adding a special golden hue to anything and everything in it’s path, which includes each and every droplet of water. A wave breaking is like a magical and god-like version of fireworks that would make even the most devout atheist believe in god.

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It’s Gotta Mean Something…

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 photo: mom

“America, how can I write a litany in your silly mood? After all, it is you and I who are perfect, not the next world. I won’t say the Lord’s Prayer. America, I can’t stand my own mind.”

Is this all right? This is the impression I get when I’m left with nothing to do but to drunkenly struggle about the city, seeking to avoid the stagnant hours before the sunrise- the most depressing hours for an insomniac. In times such as these, I take a swig from my flask and recite my favorite line from Walden “We must learn to reawaken ourselves, not by mechanical aid- but by the infinite expectation of the dawn.” My goal is to get drunk and find God. If I can find a nice streetlamp to provide a clean earnestly lighted place, I believe I might be able to stave off my depression- and if I can meet the dawn of a new day with a smile and a knowing nod, I’ll win the battle when it all comes down to it in the end.

I walk home past the small white church on the corner of H & 18th street as the glow of a new day begins while most are sound asleep. The church is an anomolie amidst the city. Only three stories tall and dwarfed by yet another office building, nothing is sacred. The only ones that are up at this hour loathe the fact they were dragged out of bed so damn early- no one appreciates it. As the sun begins to peek into this world, it seems to me as though it’s balanced atop the tight-rope of the horizon- moving so slowly one wouldn’t be remiss to think for a second that the sun might just falter and lose the great battle with gravity and be sucked from it’s rise to the heavens back to the depths of Hell. And when the sun does rise; by Gods will, by magic, or by science- the entire world becomes an earnestly lighted place and there is nowhere to hide from the walls of our depression caving in on us. Our hearts beat, our minds race, but this depression lasts and it deafens.

I look at the small white church again; hoping, perhaps, the residual glow of yesterday’s holy litanies might seep from the painted bricks into my soul and God might save me. The sun also rises and a succinct line of light and dark crept up 18th street, separating us from the Presidential Parthenon just two blocks away. In a short time the light illuminated the side of the church and for the first time the broken stained glass windows and their remnants around the church become visible.  Amongst the shards of glass in a shallow inlet, where  thirty stories of steel, rebar, and floor-to-ceiling windows met the white painted brick of the church at an obtuse angle, thereby painting the perfect metaphor for the ever dwarfing role of God in this world–  lost in the immensity of it, was a man; sittingcross-legged in America’s axilla. Upon further inspection, i noticed it was no ordinary man, but a Buddhist Monk warming his face to the rising sun. A placid demeanor glowed about him, flowing as his silken robes schemed in red and gold. I sat beside him, eager for him to teach me what I can become. For two hours we sat in silence- even as the rats took to their streets in droves, wanting not to be late for work. Amidst the hustle and the bustle my eyes shifted from the great star to the frail wrist of the monk. On it, sat a golden Rolex.

“I thought one of the central facets of Buddhism was denouncing all worldly possessions?” I asked him.

“Even a monk can’t escape punctuality in this world.”