The Null

Back when I was in high school, I wrote two essays. The first was about this most excellent moment on a roller coaster. The second was sitting on a rock on Jekyll Island. I didn’t realize at the time how much I’d envy those moments later.

The roller coaster was The Viper. If you never got the chance to ride it, it went something like this: After passengers boarded and everyone was set, a massive counterweight launched the car out of the station, straight into a loop, then up a ramp that went nowhere. Gravity slowed, halted, then pulled the car backward. Back through the loop, back through the station, back up another ramp to nowhere. Inertia again battled and was again overcome by gravity and the car was finally returned to the station. For those brief moments where the cars were completely stopped during the ride, it was amazing. These perfect pauses literally during a roller coaster ride were just brilliant.

The rock was one of literally hundreds of boulders set up on the east coast of Jekyll Island to reduce erosion. I was there with a group for a week long series of lectures and discussions. One morning, completely contrary to my nature, I woke up before dawn and walked down to the beach. The tide was coming in. I climbed up on the tallest boulder in the area, no more than a few feet above the beach. I watched, safe and dry in my perch, as the sun rose while the waves crashed around me. I’m not eloquent enough to express the kind of tranquility I felt, and I’m sorry this is the best sentence I could come up with to describe it.

Of course, as a parent, I rarely get moments like these. Every now and again, when all the appliances are off, my kid is asleep, and the house is perfectly still and quiet I feel like, if I closed my eyes, it would be very easy to have serious doubts about my own existence.

It’s never quite the same, though, and I think going through this has helped me work out why. Those perfectly calm moments were in the middle of tumult, completely in spite of it, but still surrounded by it. The thunder of the roller coaster car down the track, the crashing of the waves. Those singular moments were made significant because of their stark contrast with their context. I’d probably notice dozens of moments like these throughout the day, and probably will for a while after writing this.

You may notice a sudden break in the action right now. I hope you find enjoyment in it and the moments like it. I hope I do, too.

Thanks for reading.