“Song of Good Hope”
“You better think like a boat and go with the tide.”
I grew up in Central Florida, one long drive without a cellphone signal away from the ocean. I moved a little closer when I went to college, closer still when I took my first full-time job. But I never imagined I’d live in a beach town.
The ocean intrigues me, to be sure. But I prefer appreciating it from afar, wading in cautiously only to cool down when the persistent sun makes prolonged reading difficult. I don’t like murky water. I don’t like undefined limits. I don’t like broken shells and sneaky seaweed. I don’t know how to surf, let alone how to fight a rip tide. Up close, the ocean scares me, too mysterious to hold much good. No, for all its intrigue, the ocean always seemed at best a backdrop for a vacation, at worst a setting for destruction—never a front yard for a home.
But if life has taught me anything, it’s that the valuable moments are rarely birthed when you are most comfortable.
“Watch the signs now, you’ll know what they mean.”
At some point in the past couple months, my personal and professional life all began to point unexpectedly toward the coast. It happened quickly, as important things tend to do. Even the good can come upon you just before you are ready.
So I packed my life haphazardly in recycled boxes, placed them in the back of my car, and made the short trek east. We reached the river separating the mainland from the beach just as the sun began to grow lazy. The bridge’s concrete slabs, the waves’ arching backs, everything glimmered in the lingering summer heat.
It was, by all standards, a beautiful sight. I’ve driven over it multiple times. But this time, for some reason, it broke me. This time, it felt startlingly foreign. It was not home, but it was supposed to be. It was not mine, but then, what was?
I pulled my sunglasses lower and wondered, how does one grow roots by the sea?
“It’s just some rivers and streams in between you and where you want to be.”
Now I live in a small apartment where the shoreline is just visible through my living room window. I brake for slowly jay-walking surfers on my way to work. When I step outside my door, the weight of Florida humidity embraces me, but now it smells faintly of salt. And it’s … OK. Good, even. How quickly the rhythm of familiarity conquers the fear of the unknown.
Change, even when necessary, can be frightening at first. Perhaps you’re facing the nervousness of seeking out and creating new community in your life. Perhaps you have nagging doubts about pursuing the dreams and desires in your heart. Perhaps the journey between who you were and who you’d like to be seems to require an endurance you’re not sure you possess. Perhaps the beauty of change doesn’t seem worth the pain of changing. But that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. It might just take a “song of good hope” and a few people to sing along to face the unknowns that lie ahead.
Rivers and streams aren’t just lines in a song; I drive over them at least twice daily. I’m learning they don’t always sway gently like a Glen Hansard melody. They are unpredictable—smooth as glass one day, surging and uncontrollable the next. Sometimes, I’m amazed to live so close to such force; sometimes, I’m terrified. But I suppose that’s why it is beautiful.
“May the song of good hope walk with you through everything.”