A Case of Deja Vu
A thick morning fog rushed across the sky in the early morning. Capitola Beach, CA. The waves were rolling in calmly from the northwest. There was minimal wind and glassy conditions, but the waves were pretty mushy... some surfers were managing to get good rides though. Either way, the ocean looked majestic from the seaside overlook where we scanned the surf.
There were about 25 surfers in the water, scattered among the break. Among them was an old man chilling on a huge red longboard, deep in the lineup with white sunscreen all over his face; a tiny kid (grom) who you could tell had chops - sitting with his shortboard on the inside - just waiting for his perfect set; a middle-aged Asian man with seasoned board control and a keen eye. The scene had California painted all over it. We watched the break for a while; both to assess the conditions and also revel in the fact that we were about to paddle out together again.
It was Monday morning and the parking lot to this seaside cliff was full; a handful of outfitted vans, a surf camp rendezvous, beat up pickup trucks, and even some nice looking SUVs - I wondered what all these people were doing here. I put on Bart's shorty wetsuit - not warm enough for true comfort in the 57 degree water - and felt the dust of the concrete parking lot beneath my feet. It was cold and jagged. I could tell I hadn't surfed in a while. We pulled out our boards for the day; a thick old blue fish shaped board was my stick. Meanwhile Bart was riding a wider shortboard of sorts.
As I placed the blue fish on the dusty ground and Bart tossed me the surfboard wax, I was struck by the distantly familiar medley of scents in the air. The Pacific ocean breeze, the seaweed smell in its wake, the surfboard wax, the neoprene of the wetsuit... It all came together at once in a wave of deja vu. I was transported back to this very same moment, now 5 years gone from my feet, as if I'd just time traveled into a different life. I slowed the circles of wax on my board and fell into a savoring trance, lost in the feeling.
It got me thinking about the nature of time: is it possible to experience a sort of reverse deja vu, where the feeling of familiarity arises for a future event? I was reminded of the book Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut and the concept of circular time from the Tralfamadorians. Here's an except from the book:
"The most important thing I learned on Tralfamadore was that when a person dies he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral. All moments, past, present and future, always have existed, always will exist. The Tralfamadorians can look at all the different moments just that way we can look at a stretch of the Rocky Mountains, for instance. They can see how permanent all the moments are, and they can look at any moment that interests them. It is just an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever."
On the eve of change in life, the lifestyle and the relationships that led to the change coalesce in a wave of emotion. I can feel it approaching with an irrevocable intensity. It carries the weight of the heart. Then a new day dawns, and everything that once was becomes defined in the confines of memory - both personal and shared - to be told again one day as stories. Every chapter we live out holds the possibility to one day relive the experience.
As it is: As it was: As it will be; only the moment knows the truth.