Space and time.  The two ingredients needed to diffuse feelings.

Recently, I was in California visiting this famous (or is it infamous?) spot called The Children’s Pool in La Jolla.  I had listened to an episode on This American Life detailing the controversy between the seal activists and the beachgoers.   It was like Westside Story – minus the snappy singing – as the shared use side clashed with the seal activist side.  And perhaps “clash” is too soft a word.  More like screamed, agitated, assaulted, and threatened. Apparently, the whole city fell in one of two camps, and suddenly neighbors became bitter enemies.

I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, so with my dad driving and my mom navigating, we headed towards the action.

And would you believe what we saw??  Nothing.  Nada.  A sign swinging from a rope informing us that the beach was closed during pupping season. Tourists taking photos.  A lonely tie-dye vendor looking bored.  And a few dozen seals nursing.

There was no conflict.  No hurt feelings.  No reactions to regret.

We ventured around to the back of the cove and discovered an open beach.  There, too, were tourists taking photos and a handful of seals.  But no rope.  No sign.  No drama.  We stood a respectful distance away in awe of the new life.  The sun bouncing off the waves, and seals bouncing up the beach.  It reminded me of how grateful I am that seasons don’t last forever.

When you’re in It – whatever It is, you can only see It.  I’ve told many friends that in this season of divorce and rebuilding, I can’t imagine what my life will look like in a year because I can’t imagine what my life will look like tomorrow.  The hurt, the grief, the brokenness is too big.  It’s all-consuming.

At the beginning, like morning sickness, every little thing would trigger a reaction.  I cried a lot.  I cussed a lot.  I wrote and wrote and wrote some more.

And then one day while driving to my therapist’s, on a slushy-street day, I realized that I didn’t have anything to talk about.  My agenda sat blank.  I apologized to her for arriving empty-headed and unheavy-hearted and she said all therapisty, “That’s good.  That means you’re healing.”

Ahhh.  Healing.  I like the sound of that.

The thing is, you can’t force it.  We all heal at different paces, and in different ways.  Give it time.  And some space.


  1. Laura

    I lived there in the 80’s and early 90s and the La Jolla Cove beaches (including childrens’) were full of people–no seals. I think the tuna industry was waning in the 80s in San Diego and eventually went away (fished out). It’s nice to see that nature can rebound when people get out of the way. And that you can still enjoy the beach and baby seals.

    • Erin

      What a beautiful place to live! And how strange to think the seals are relatively new neighbors. I wonder what it will be like in another 30 years.

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