The beach in our town had enormous cliffs. They towered over our blankets and sand castles for decades, maybe even for generations. Of course, we always knew they were fragile, and so we told our children not to play on them. Respect them. Don’t do anything to harm them. We did our best to stop the change which was inevitable.
It seems fitting that their collapse came this month, just as the pandemic was eroding the world as we have known it . The change has happened. The towering dunes have crumbled and now, as the summer approaches, we are walking around them wondering where they have gone. We are already casting them into the realm of folklore. Remember how big the dunes were? Remember how you used to let them shield you from the sun? We are grieving. But what are we grieving for? We aren’t grieving for the dunes. They are fine in their new form. Their clumps of rock and seagrass may be scattered, but they are still there. We are grieving for ourselves and a time that was, a time that has already passed into memory. But, of course, the memory is still there, too, although the feelings, thoughts and images may have scattered, as well.
There is, of course, a metaphor here and it is too good for a writer like me to let go unmentioned. But don’t worry. The metaphor isn’t about the collapse of our livelihoods or society in general. At least not for me. Instead, it is a metaphor of inevitability, of unstoppable change, of appreciation, and ultimately of persistent continuity.