I live less than five miles from the ocean but in my insane life am too busy to go there often. Every time I go, something is different. Five years ago, the nearest beach was sand. Then for a year or two it was rocks, with no sand at all. Then the ocean moved all the rocks down to one side of an inlet. Then it added more sand and created a lagoon. Now the lagoon is gone and and all the rocks are gone on both sides and it is sand beaches again.

A few weeks ago, I visited several times and found many tiny brightly colored shells, every one different. Knowing the waves would pulverize them soon, I picked them up. Some of them had a rough spot on one end much like a mussel, and I assumed they’d been torn from their place of attachment off shore by the changing tides. Occasionally I found one that was still alive, so I threw it as far as I could back into the ocean. I expected it to get washed up again soon and die, but I figured a few more days of life was better than nothing. Of course many people would consider empathy for a shellfish to be crazy, but that’s how I feel about it.

Something I’ve wondered about before, is whether we’re all spiritually like a sea animal or a wad of seaweed, detached from its offshore rock home and washed up on the beach. Not dead, but ultimately doomed, with no way to ever return home. One reason I have wondered that is I experience magic in our world, but so little, like finding a rare animal in a desert. There are animals in the desert only because there are richer ecosystems elsewhere for such animals to have began their evolution in. It seems to me there must be stronger magic somewhere. But there also seems to me to be something broken about our existence, as if we’re not really at home in the desert, but found ourselves in one at some point, and are not quite dead yet.

This week I went back again to collect more shells. This time, it was very low tide, and there were millions of tiny, colorful clams, very much alive, and burrowing vertically into the sand as the waves retreated. So they weren’t like mussels after all, and the stranded ones I had thrown into the ocean likely lived.

One point that jumps out at me is there are predators: most of the shells I picked up probably had their occupants killed by gulls. Another is that the reason I didn’t previously see millions of live clams wasn’t because they weren’t there, right under my feet, but because they were hiding to protect themselves from the sun, and to a lesser extent from the gulls.

I think this image metaphorically aligns with our ‘dry spell’. Conscious dream premonition and telepathy to the extent we had a few years ago is largely out of season, hence the traffic drop at this site. But our capacity for it is not really gone.