Last week, in California, I sat on a square of concrete atop a hill, the exact spot where Guglielmo Marconi once sent and received radio messages across the Pacific Ocean. I’m talking the same Marconi who was awarded the Nobel Prize for his contribution to the development of wireless telegraphy.
Ironically, the wi-fi at the Marconi Center overlooking Tomales Bay sucked.
I didn’t mind.
I was there to write. Not scour the Internet.
There was little left to the remains of the radio towers that once stood where I sat. Embedded in the corner of the concrete pad, I spied a copper marker, about the size of a penny with a patina of green that read, “Calif Lands Comm Marconi 1947.”
It made me think of how things change—forms of communications, for example. And it also made me think of how other things endure.
Like Laysan albatross. Right now, they are winging their way to Kaua‘i where, after hooking up with their mates, they will alternate incubation shifts, some shifts lasting up to three weeks, the whole while sitting and standing over their unborn chick while it forms inside its calcium enclosure but never once walking or flying away, never once eating a meal, or forgetting their responsibilities. After their egg hatches, the parents will rack up thousands of frequent flyer miles over the ensuing five months while foraging for food to see their young to fledging. That’s endurance.
Like Hawaiian monk seals. They’ve survived millions of years, witnessing the closing of the watery passage that once separated North and South Americas. They were plying the Pacific when the molten lava that turned into the island of Kaua‘i first surfaced above the sea some five million years ago. And every year for the past eight, a female, RH58, known as Rocky, has crossed the Kaʻieʻie Waho Channel, from O‘ahu to Kaua‘i in the final days of her pregnancy, so she could birth at the same beach where she entered this world. Doing so, she’s endured hundreds of miles of open ocean, rough seas, boat traffic, floating masses of ghost nets, and sharks.
Memories endure, too. Like when a female deer and her two offspring came into view as I sat on the eastern edge of the Pacific Ocean, and I thought of my grandfather who loved deer and whose birthday was that very day. Grandpa was born in 1907, the same year Marconi collected his Nobel prize. As the deer nibbled nearby, I wondered what kind of wireless technology Grandpa was using to communicate with me.
Endurance: It’s what writers need, too, and I’m hoping to channel it to complete some upcoming projects.