I had arranged to meet Alexandra on the seafront the next Monday morning. I explained that I would bring us take-away coffee, as I wanted to use the half-hour to do a large-scale drawing. I had hinted that additional footwear might be required and she looked quite incongruous when she arrived, in pin stripe suit and walking boots . . .
“Only for you!” she shouted into the gathering wind. Her smile was infectious. I winced at what I had to do. I held up the coffee and she took hers. I pointed at the beach. “We have to go down onto the sand.”
She nodded, “I had a feeling it was going to be something like that!” But she followed, willingly, down the old concrete steps and onto the golden sand. Each of us took care not to spill coffee from the fragile paper cups.
I was dressed in jeans and summer boots. She looked like someone you wouldn’t expect to find on a beach, early on a Monday morning. I looked at her, holding her eyes, then began to circle her, in a predatory fashion. At first she giggled and turned to her coffee for succour; but when I carried on my actions, and she was faced with something she didn’t understand, she began to look less sure of herself. I continued to circle her like a wolf, my footsteps marking a rough circle in the sand.
She broke free from my tracks and headed towards the water line, where tiny waves were lapping onto the beach. Behind them, larger waves with white horses were building on the stiffening breeze. I smiled at the turn of events; feeling the warm wind turn gusty, and watching it blow at her hair and clothes, as she stood, trapped between the sea and my advancing but still silent figure.
She turned away from me, drinking her coffee, a small act of the known, the familiar.
I came level with her, then studied the sea, before walking into it.
“What!” I heard her gasp, “I hope you don’t think–”
But my actions cut her off, as, now up to my ankles in sea water, and sporting wet and uncomfortably splashed jeans, I began to walk a perfect segment of a circle, passing her with a still silent look, on the seaward side, before coming out of the water to complete the circle on the dry sand, dragging my feet to ensure the perimeter was clearly delineated. When I had finished, most of my circle was on the dry beach, but the final arc was submerged.
She looked at my madness. The normal humour in her eyes was gone. “Circles?” she shouted, angrily. “Is that it? Are you trying to teach me about bloody circles?” But she did not move from the spot.
Still I said nothing. It was difficult. I knew the tension was becoming unbearable and I was not doing this to be cruel. I walked to a nearby, rocky section of the beach, put down my coffee and picked up three, large pebbles. I carried them back to where she was standing, looking at her newly-insane friend, and placed them at three of the cardinal points of the circle made from my wet footprints.
Only the invisible point in the sea remained unmarked.
My feet squelched as I did so, and I, too, was acutely uncomfortable. I retrieved my coffee, which was still untouched. I looked a her angry and somewhat frightened face.
“Don’t move from the circle,” I said. “You’re safe there.”
She shouted back at me, “Safe from what, you idiot?”
I began to walk around Alexandra’s safe circle, again. “Safe from me . . .” I let the words hang in the wind.
Stunned at my response, she stood, mute in the centre of her safe prison and watched as I walked back into the sea, stopping when I was at the far point of my symbolic creation.
It must have looked surreal.
She stared at me in silent rage, then cursed as her half-full coffee cup fell from her fingers and splashed all over her safe sand. She bent to pick up the cup, but stopped. The rules of the world had gone to hell, what did it matter . . .
“Walk towards me,” I said, gently.
“Into the bloody sea–in my best legal suit?”
I watched her conduct the greatest inner fight of our friendship; watched as the past months flashed before her eyes and she reviewed the kindly outcomes of each encounter. Sometimes bodies speak much louder than the mind ever can; trust triumphed and she hung her head and walked towards the sea.
When she arrived at the water line, her head still bowed, she was surprised to find two wet and booted feet standing there. I had come forward, silently, to meet her halfway – and halfway was the water line.
She looked up. There were tears in both our eyes. I held out my full and untouched cup of coffee. “For you,” I said, simply.
I cleared my throat, then said, “That’s what it feels like in the land of the Enneagram’s three point.” I shook my head in a beloved memory of my own journey. “And what it feels like when people love you enough to pull you out of it . . .”
(to be continued)
Nine Deadly Sins with Coffee is usually published on Thursdays.
All images and text ©International copyright, The Silent Eye School of Consciousness, 2015.