Today was unusually cool for Florida. Even for January. Yesterday? Sunshine, not a cloud in the sky with the temperature in the mid 80’s. The weather that every Northerner wished they had this time of year. I had decided I would go to the beach on Saturday if just for the day. It was a trip that was long overdue and deserved. I woke at 5 am. After a cup of coffee or two the sun still veiled by overcast skies, a light mist and a relatively cool 62 degrees. Not the day I would have ordered up but any day at the beach is better than no day at the beach so I filled my thermos with Cuban coffee and headed East to where the water meets the land. Upon my arrival I sat for a few minutes to just watch the waves and enjoy a couple of demitasse cups before exploring not so much the oceanfront but my thoughts. I wasn’t so much looking for something to write about, but here I am.
As I stepped over the weathered wooden bridge I heard the loose sand rustle like sand paper doing its refining on each plank. Then becoming more silent as my shoes pressed down in that first softness before you find the firm foundation that is found closer to the water. I stood for a moment looking. It was hard to see where the overcast skies and the ocean began on the horizon. Now, do I walk North or South? I chose South for no apparent reason. I just seemed to be drawn in that direction. I looked to my right making note of the coral colored hotel that I departed from. It would be my landmark, my lighthouse for my voyage home. I pulled the collar of my fleece jacket up around my neck and began my trek. I watched the waves roll up on the sand and noticed the colors. Closest to the water; a rusty brown that faded into a medium-light grey streaked with black. It reminded me of the polluted world we live in. Not just environment but our intellect and spiritually as well.
“Too heavenly minded to be any earthly good.” The grey turning to that soft white sand. Soft, receptive, malleable having the ability to withstand pressure when underfoot, to adjust but still remain true to what it was…sand.
As I walked down the shoreline I was greeted by each passerby with a soft “hello,” or at least a warm smile. It was like neither one of us wanted to interrupt what the low roar of the ocean had to say or what the wind might whisper in our ear next. It was all so relaxed, so non-busy. I didn’t know if these were residents or visitors from faraway places. All I knew was that we held the same reverence and respected a time and place that was far from the hustle and bustle of a noisy world. The shoreline continued to catch my attention. Never did I look to my right except to exchange pleasantries with others as myself. Those seeking reflection and renewal. The small birds that would scurry along the sand quickening their pace to avoid getting their little feet wet with the approaching foam. The sea gulls quiet flying in a V-formation at times seeming to stationary as they held their wings against the headwind. I’m not sure how far I walked or for how long but I looked over my shoulder and my coral lighthouse was nowhere in sight. It was time to change direction. Maybe this is what it was all about. A change of direction. A change from how I did 2015 and how I would move forward in the New Year just 24 hours old.
I stood for a moment and then turned on my heel to head Northward and the first thing I noticed was the wind in my face, the wind blowing through my hair. I hadn’t really given the wind much thought during my walk down the beach. It was at my back. My stride was relaxing and flowing almost like I was floating along one of those moving walkways in an airport. It was like I was being helped along. Being lifted, encouraged. Perhaps this is what it feels like when you are pursuing your passion. No, it IS what it feels like. Uplifting and effortless. But now I was walking against the wind. My body resistant to my own progress. My shoulder hunched just ever so to maintain the same pace I had traveling South but eventually I made the adjustment. I began to think how many times in life we find ourselves swimming upstream or against the current. Maybe that is because we rarely take the time to sit quietly on the shoreline and contemplate where we want to go, what our destination is and then are singularly focused to exit at the perfect time to meet our destiny without having to back track. Still these missteps, miscalculations make us stronger. The dance life offers at time is two steps forward and one step back.
On my return my attention was still to my left but this no longer offered the view of sand, surf and an endless horizon but that of civilization. Hotels, motels, with homes of every shape and size. Some modest and some if they could be lifted and moved were palatial enough to be transported the Malibu beach without drawing suspicion. I thought of what it would be like to make a place like this my permanent residence. waking to the wind. Caressing that first cup of coffee, feeling its warm on my hands and drawing in its aroma, and walking on the beach knowing I would greet and be greeted by those who had found a way to make time stand still. or at least slow down. On the other side of the houses I watch cars whizzing up and down A1A between them reminding me that soon enough I too would rejoin the work-a-day world.
I would return the same, but changed. I look down towards my feet to discover not hundreds but thousands of sea shells embedded in the sand. Some large…some small…some beautiful… some broken. It was like a snapshot of humanity. I thought about picking up a few to remind me of the trip but thought, “Who am I to remove what is not mine and deprive future beach walkers of what I have just experienced?” All I would take is the serenity I had found. As I returned the shells to their resting place and brushed the sand off my hands I looked up and my coral lighthouse was within view. My day was complete. I found what I was looking for and I was content because I had answered the call.