There – I was – carrying the purple starfish into the ocean.
I spotted it on the shore. Unusual, to have a starfish exposed out of the water’s reach like that. Underneath the bright rigid carcass were hundreds of its little soft white legs, still.
Suddenly, I was marching into the waves with a half-dead starfish in my hand. The water splashing up onto my legs in an action with no other foreseen possibility to it.
Mid-stride, I saw myself as that woman – the woman in the image that I love, that a beloved friend, Kaycee, created. I got the print from her when we met by the river to go on a long walk – when my life had rerouted and I asked her how she handled her own unexpected rerouting of life in previous years.
“Find what lights you on fire,” she said, “and do that.”
She also said wine, and a lot of yoga.
The collage is a fable, a story, of a woman standing on the edge of the ocean among the starfish. It matters to this Starfish.
It is also a story that my mother shared with me a decade ago.
My mother told the tale of a person walking on the beach, and seeing all these baby turtles washed upon the shore. The person started picking up the beings one-by-one, and throwing them back into the ocean. Someone witnessed this and asked the person – “Why are you doing this? There is too many of them to matter.” The person picked up a turtle, threw it into the ocean, and replied, “Well, it mattered to that one.”
Kaycee’s image traveled with me to different homes, different rooms, different writing spaces. It is still with me, the windswept woman on a blue beach surrounded by red starfish.
And now, here I am, marching into the water with a half-dead starfish in my hand, trying to throw it beyond the breakers.
That woman, in that moment, when memory becomes truth; she had already lived it a million times before.
Because it mattered.