A man stood near the South Jetty watching the ocean. He watched four surfers in the water, waiting to catch a wave. The man wore a suit, odd for seven in the morning, but then again, after 20 years of rambling Oregon Coast beaches, nothing really strikes me as odd anymore. I think I’ve seen it all and then witness something new that upends the definition of “all.” That’s why I go to the beach, to get that constant upending.

I approached from the rear and watched him watch. I knew he was a surfer because of the way he looked at the ocean. It was an assessment. I assumed he had driven some distance, probably on lark, probably on the way to a meeting where he probably partook in ruining the planet. He probably had no intention of surfing this morning. The suit gave that away.

Maybe there was penance in his hooky. Maybe he wasn’t ruining the planet at all, and stood at the South Jetty craving to surf, dreaming of finding inspiration for one idea that could save the planet! Maybe he just wanted to empty his mind and feel the mystical liquid the go back to being a cop or brewer.

I came within a few feet of him.“Are you going out?” I said.

He was startled and turned to me. “I don’t know,” he said. “I’m contemplating.”

How will you decide?

That takes more contemplation.

How will you know when there’s enough?

I’ll know.

“Have a great morning,” I said.

“You too.”

I left the ocean to return to my current parched reality of living on land. I left the man there, contemplating, meditating, deliberating. He was in no rush to decide whether to gear up and surf. The waves were decent. The weather perfect. He was waiting.

I thought his process of contemplation a good one to emulate as I face an uncertain future on when or where to dive next into the water and start surfing life again.

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