I cruised the beach north to the South Jetty on a bright weekday morning, just after dawn. I was the only one around, not counting the gulls, which I don’t.

Something orange caught my eye and I moved toward it. Most likely, a child’s sand shovel. Hopefully, not a dildo like the last time I found orange on the beach.

I dislodged the object from the sand—neither child nor adult toy. It was a level, a cracked-in-half level, but an operational level nonetheless.

A level! I love levels. In fact, it is about the only handyman tool I know how to use because a human being can’t really make a mistake with it. Just read the bead and go from there. The mistakes come after reading.

Here I was at sea level and I discovered a level. In my 20 years of rambling the Oregon Coast’s socialist beaches, this was easily my greatest find. The dildo is probably seventh or eighth.

I did a little jig, continued my walk, and soon got the idea to apply the level to everything in my path: driftlogs, driftwoood rounds, forts, cairns, rocks, the jetty, an empty bottle of Russian vodka and more. I was mad to use my level! And let me tell you something fascinating: nothing around me was level. Absolutely nothing! My level proved that.

The use of the level instigated some uneven wordplay in my mind. At one point, I stopped walking, sat down, played with my level, and leveled out the wordplay into practical consideration and perhaps even metaphorical application.

Who has been on the level with me?

Who have I not leveled with?

Who wants to level with me?

Have I leveled with myself?

How many degrees am I off level in my life right now?

Who or what can help me become level?

Is there such a thing as a great leveler?

Do I want to live on level ground?

Can you create art on even ground?

Why is level such a sweet sounding word?

What level is Level 6?

The Leveling is a great name for a moody rock band.

How about a science fiction novel where a society evolves on uneven ground and comes into conflict with a society that evolved on level ground?

Do dogs prefer to romp on level ground?

Is there a poem or pop song associated with level?

How in the world did this orange level come to rest in the sand on this beach?

It was time to go, eat breakfast with the gulls, and build my super fort.

I would not use the level in the fort’s construction and I would not leave it behind to possibly delight someone else. I was taking it home for my writing studio where I could watch the bead and continue to ponder the meaning of level.

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