Against the tide
There is a tide.
It is strong.
It pulls at the ground, at the air, at the people.
People are drawn, excited by its power. They join hands; excited by the noise, excited by the enormity, excited by other people telling them to be excited. They are excited by a need to be excited by something.
There is much noise, much enthusiasm, but very little discussion about why they are doing this and what they will leave behind.
Everyone (it seems) is overwhelmed by the sounds and they are getting into boats and sailing away on the tide.
I squint into the distance from where they have come, behind and beyond the queues of people, and see tiny dots left on the land.
I am thinking, “But…”
And yet I say nothing.
I am wondering, “Why?”
And yet I say nothing.
I have doubts about the tide and how long it will last and what good it will bring to go out on such a powerful tide. But such a great number of people can’t be wrong, can they? And there is such enthusiasm.
They take a lot of money, a lot of provisions, and all the newspaper reporters go with them too.
I don’t wave goodbye. They don’t wave goodbye. They think I am angry or mad because I don’t go with them. I don’t feel angry, I don’t think I’m mad, but I wonder why I don’t find the tide as mesmerising as they do.
And so I look at the ground, at the sky, at the dots, and find many things to distract me. I am happy for a while. They have their thing out on the tide and I have my thing. I find comfort in this for a while.
But every day, every hour, every minute my thoughts are disturbed by messages washing up on the beach about the tide; how it is strong, how it is good, how there are new heros to worship, new distractions to concentrate on – over and above any of my things, and apparently everything bad has faded into insignificance.
I walk away from the mess the messages have left on the shore and travel to the dots only to find they are people.
“We were left behind,” they say. “Why did you say nothing when you saw us?”
“I didn’t want to go against the tide,” I say.
“You may as well have gone with them then,” they say. “You’re no help.”
I see the boats return on the next tide.
The people returning are poor, are hungry. It turns out the money wasn’t for them – it was used to make the noise. But they say they have memories and they have heros.
I hope it is enough for them.
I see it is no comfort to the dots. The bad things didn’t go away. They got worse.
I wonder if I could have gone against the tide and what good it would have brought.