Last week Tuesday, 8 days ago, just hours before the deluge that brought down an unbelievable amount of water and mud and suffering to the Cinque Terre, I went to take a look at the sea after dropping my daughter off at nursery school.  It was a warm morning, the Libeccio was blowing, and the sea was starting to swell.  It was a lovely morning, and as I stood there looking out at the sea from the Bay of Levanto, I started thinking about all the men and women standing on or near the beach, staring out at sea, lost in their own thoughts.

The words that came to mind for me in that moment were those of Robert Frost:

Neither Out Far Nor In Deep

“The people along the sand
All turn and look one way.
They turn their back on the land.
They look at the sea all day.

As long as it takes to pass
A ship keeps raising its hull;
The wetter ground like glass
Reflects a standing gull.

The land may vary more;
But wherever the truth may be—
The water comes ashore,
And the people look at the sea.

They cannot look out far.
They cannot look in deep.
But when was that ever a bar
To any watch they keep?”

Little did I know that in less than 6 hours I would have had to rush back to town to get my daughter from her school where she was being evacuated, fight against the rising water coming in from one of the doors, and abandon our house for safety as the mud rushed faster and faster.  Little did anyone know about the catastrophe about to hit so many towns. 

Why do we stand on the beach and look out at the sea?  Because it is inscrutable, like the future.  The fact that it is unknowable and unpredictable is one of the fundamental truths in life.  Pretending that we can control it is futile … being able to react to it is what makes us men … and being able to speculate about it is exquisitely human.

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