The tide of life

I was searching for an analogy earlier today for the fast passage of time and it occurred to be that life is, very much, like a tide cycle.

The water comes in and that is your youth. As you grow so do your opportunities. The flat opens up for you. You can explore. You can range fare and wide until the flat itself is full of life. The peak of the tide is middle age, the height of your opportunities and possibilities. Slowly, the tide starts to go out and your opportunities shrink, your world diminishes until, at the bottom of the outgoing tide, you end up where you were in the beginning.

It works, for me, as an analogy for life and I’m not totally fooling myself when I acknowledge that I’m close to slack tide, soon, and maybe already, starting to feel the water flowing back out.

At the start of the outgoing there are still fish to be caught. Those that had used the high water to get up into the mangroves will be coming back out. There are shots to be made yet and with the experience of the incoming tide under my belt, I should have a better idea of where those shots will be.

That’s the hope, right?

That, and maybe for a little off-shore wind to slow down the outgoing tide.

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  1. Certainly an apt analogy to ponder. May you have the blessings to know where to cast, conserve your remaining energy, and enjoy the moments you have left. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, a “unique” category. Another perspective may be to consider the flats creatures who live for the moment. They may have sense of time but it may be an inate urgency to move and do fishy stuff. There is no later, here is only “do,” and to remember the lessons of the past. Perhaps they dream of a future…

  2. Not being a saltwater guy the only problem I have with the analogy is when the tide comes in your underwater world grows, populates, shrinks and then un-populates. Depending on your point of view, as we age the entire world seems to either seem impossibly large, or ridiculously smaller. Personally it seems to me to be shrinking, not as if it really is (as in the case with the outgoing tide) but rather the size of the planet is static while the population continues swelling. Same earth, more people, less available space. It also seems smaller to me because technology enables people to stay connected like never before. Ultimately, folks of our vintage get the daily benefit of all that they’ve learned in days gone by. For some, that ain’t much and it shows! For others (I hope we’re in this group) life lessons learned can bestow an odd combination of confidence and humility. (“Yes, I can do this well, but BFD.”) Where I think this is going is that (if we’re lucky) we are left with two things in the end: laughter and love. -Hang the size of the world.

  3. bonefishbjorn

    I like that it has got you thinking Chip.

    The thing that really got me with the analogy is there is that point in the outgoing where you just want it to slow down a bit and it doesn’t. It just keeps going out and you can’t stop it. It is that longing for youth or for more time or even for second chances. The outgoing doesn’t care about your wishes… it just retreats back out into the sea.

    Right now, I can hardly fathom it is June… time just seems to be screaming by, like a fast outgoing tide. If you have an off-shore wind, the water comes off the flats even faster.

    I think about the incoming tide as that excitement at the world of possibilities that maybe maps to one’s 20’s and early 30’s… it maps that way for me, a time when there were so many options available. As you get older it gets harder to re-invent yourself or head in a totally new direction and then, toward the end, your world, again, becomes very small.

    There are lots of ways the analogy can fall apart, but it seems to work well when I think about my own life.

    Analogies seem to be made of water.

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