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Jean Carnahan

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The Tide Always Comes Back

Posted: 11/03/09 02:38 PM ET

A book's title is a writer's pick up line. We yearn for the potential buyer to pick up our book, admire its colorful jacket, examine the blurbs, and leaf the pages as our words leap forth, nimble and irresistible. We want readers to whisper softly with Humphrey Bogart: "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

For my recently published book I had chosen as the working title: I Wonder While I Wander: One Woman's Way Through the Wilderness. Though it was an apt description of how I felt at the time, the alliteration eventually wore me out. A few years back, I decided that after a brief vacation I would search for a title with more power and assurance.

Now I have an impish Muse that attacks me at improbably moments much like Cato did Inspector Clouseau in those Peter Sellers' films. But at the beach? Would my Muse follow me like the Travelocity gnome, catching up with me on a Caribbean seashore? Frankly, I find it hard to achieve "the joy of elevated thoughts" lying on the beach, my crevices filled with sand and my body's slacked with sun screen and encased in an overly-snug bathing suit.

But one day as I surveyed my kingdom by the sea, I caught a glimpse of a small boat down the beach that appeared to be stuck in the sand. The scene brought to mind a picture I once saw of a dinghy stranded on the shore after the tide had gone out. It was entitled: "The Tide Always Comes Back." I smiled as I recalled the old Cornish proverb that had been so reassuring to me in recent years--though at the turn of the century, I would have disputed it roundly. I had just lost my husband and oldest son in a plane crash, nine months later my house burned, and the following year I lost my seat in the U.S. Senate. In the ebb and flow of life, I had felt stranded and hopeless.

But this day, as I watched the tide lunge onto the beach, I was spellbound by the ocean's unrelenting struggle, a timeless reminder that life requires mighty endeavor. We were not meant to be beached and useless. When the tide returns--as it surely will--our tiny boat will be lifted to dance upon the waves as it was intended. While the loss of a job, a home, or a loved one can give us reason to fear the future, there are ageless certainties that give us far more reason to believe. The assurance of a returning tide buoyed my spirit and became the theme and title for my book.

Conceived on the beach, The Tide Always Comes Back is woven with hope, humor and gentle reminders of what we know to be true. Its enduring message is worth sharing with friends and family during the holiday season.