Ascending Cliffs in the Distance

Ascending Cliffs in the Distance

Jeffrey Yamaguchi

An endless beach, truly. Miles upon miles of sand, sea, and cliffs. Not another person in sight. I was alone with my body and my thoughts, one foot in front of the other, feet sinking into the ocean soaked sands.

The alone part, wonderful. The thoughts, not so good. The clichés ricocheted inside my head, each effort to break out of this line of thinking just reinforcing and cycling back into itself the inherent problem 

Is this a dream?
This is like a dream.
This is a dream come true.
I feel as if I am one with nature.
The ocean and the sky are as close to forever as I’ll ever know.
Like a dream.

Someone else says these things, you roll your eyes. You say them to yourself and you want to pull your eyes out of your own head. But I kept reaching for the clichés, because the other places my mind would trip itself into were very specific — too specific, in fact, about the nonessential but nonetheless highly stressful elements of the ongoing nonspecific nature of the work that I (we) do and from which I had made a vehement point of taking a break from:

The nonsensical clarification of a confusing explanation from an ongoing conversation at a regularly scheduled and always running-long meeting.

The repeated generalized ask for more creative for the more creative aspects of our most creative work.

The conference call invite details for a discussion about a better process for our debriefs after important conference calls.

It’s as if I was actually still at my desk staring at a screensaver of the beach that I was walking upon right at that very moment.

That is when I saw the birds.

In a dynamic formation the birds trailed up the edges of the glistening sea and danced with the continual roll and crash of waves, sheer elegance in the way they lifted their wings ever so slightly above the frothy waters in flux. They flew over me in a drift, and as soon as they passed, the speed of their traverse seemed to rapidly accelerate. I stopped and watched their flight to further. In the distance they shifted their trajectory and ascended the steep walls of the cliffs, whipping themselves out of view, beyond the vantage of my sight. They were gone, and my mind was set to glide as I imagined the birds continuing on with their flight.

I wanted this, to reach the cliffs and to see what is on the other side, and then to carry on, out of sight and aloft, heading ever higher and further into the unknown spaces of beyond.

There is no one to report what happened next. This is the true beauty of taking a walk alone that is long and far enough away — to get to the point where the things you (don’t) think and the places you (don’t) delve into and the (non)decisions you decide (not) to make are truly and wholeheartedly yours and yours alone. 

I did not see the birds again. But I kept on moving, and I did reach the cliffs. And once I reached the cliffs, I continued on with the journey.

I am still there, sometimes, not always. I never find myself if I have to look. 

Watch them disappear
keep moving and get closer
to not being there

Ascending Cliffs in the Distance

Jeffrey Yamaguchi