The light is dim, and there is a coolness in the air that cuts to the bone. The musty smell of wet sand and stagnant pools assaults the senses. Jagged edges of rocks and ledges become visible as your eyes adjust to the darkness. In the distance there is a faint glimmer of light which beckons you, signaling the way out of this dead place.
The ground sludges beneath you, as layers of damp sand give way beneath your feet, you can hear the sloshing as water is released underneath each step. The dampness in the air penetrates to the very core and a shiver runs down your spine as you stumble on uneven footing.
Suddenly, the glimmer of light is whisked away and a deafening roar overtakes you; the brutal shock as icy waves break over you. Losing touch of the ground, you are tossed about, floundering, gasping for breath; unable to see the way up, or out, or even the obstacles ahead.
As suddenly as it began, the water recedes, and you once again have your feet on the ground. The glimmer of light appears again, this time a little to the left. You reorient, and continue on, taking tentative steps, shivering in the cold.
Determined not to be taken by surprise again, you are ever watching, straining to hear any signs of what is to come. Dread fills you as you hear the roar of another wave rapidly rushing in. The fear is almost worse than the wave itself, you frantically search for something to grab hold of, in sheer desperation, but again you lose the ground – swirled around in the darkness.
It is relentless – a few more steps, another wave. Each advance seems to make no lasting dent as wave after wave knocks you off your feet, steals the breath from your lungs, leaving you even more exhausted than before.
Despair sets in as you realise your only hope is to keep walking directly into the waves. The only way out is to allow them to knock you down, to send you into chaos again, and again as you make your way to the entrance of the cave.
As the next wave hits, you wonder is it better to walk back to where it was drier, to where the waves could not reach you. You decide to return there, thinking that perhaps if you just dry off a bit, recover your breath, then you can be ready to take this walk. As you make your way back, the darkness thickens, and the dampness grows heavier; you realise that you cannot return to where you were, there is no warmth or life in that place. To return is to be entombed in the darkness.
You turn back towards the entrance, weary. Walking back means facing the waves as they grow bigger and stronger. It feels as though everything is against you – the rocky edges are to slippery to hold, there is nowhere to anchor yourself. You must simply surrender to the waves. Allow them to push you further into the cave, and then, to suck you back towards the sea again. Resistance is futile.
It feels so illogical, to surrender to waves, to allow them to toss you about recklessly, swirling in the darkness; but if you can find it within you to stop resisting them, they will slowly carry you closer to freedom. In between the onslaught of each wave, you are able to take a few determined steps, avoiding obvious obstacles, preparing yourself to let go and surrender once again.
The fear is tangible, it feel as though at any moment this will be the end, that you will be engulfed, drowned in the chaos. Eventually you will see the entrance coming closer, and freedom will begin to be conceivable. As you continue to get closer, bit by bit, you find more solid footing. In this place the waves still can hit you, but they no longer carry you away. You find yourself able to stand up in them. As you continue walking, pausing to stay sure against each coming wave, you slowly find they are getting shallower; you do not have to pause as long between sets, and eventually they merely lap your ankles as you are able to walk safely along the shore. It is here, on the dry ground, that you appreciate the beauty of the sea, and here, beside the very thing that nearly destroyed you, you can finally rest.