September 8, 2019

Reflections from the Beach

“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

Last weekend, I convinced Raymond to join me for a walk on the beach. Raymond doesn’t like the beach. Sand, wind and waves aren’t his thing.

I could have gone by myself, or with a beach-loving friend, but I was trying to do a “couple’s thing.” So Raymond came along, muttering a bit, but overall, behaving well.

I grew up on the north shore of Prince Edward Island close to the beach. I went there on occasion with my parents, and when I was older, I went by myself or with friends. When Max and Hannah were small, I’d pack up a cooler, sunscreen, blanket and towels, and off we’d go. Both of them loved to play in the sand and at the edge of the water, and I’d relax and read a book. It was cheap entertainment for all of us.

I rarely go to the beach now. This past spring I said I’d spend more time there but I didn’t. I couldn’t be bothered packing up and going despite the beach being only a twenty-minute drive from where I live.

I told Raymond I wanted to go to Stanhope Lane Beach. We hopped in the convertible with nothing but our bottles of water. No accessories. I didn’t even put on my bathing suit because I knew there was no way Raymond was going to stretch out on the sand. I wore shorts, a t-shirt and flip-flops. Raymond wore his shirt, long pants and shoes with socks!

Since we didn’t have a pass for the National Park, we drove down Stanhope Lane to the barrier fence and parked the car. Then we hopped out and walked the five minutes to the shore. It was a beautiful day, windy, but nice.

As we walked down the boardwalk to the sand, the first thing that caught my eye was a wooden frame draped with billowing white fabric and white flowers. There were four people setting up for a wedding. Two men were lugging hardwood benches from a truck, sliding them down the cliff, and then setting them up in the sand. A woman was wiping the sand off the benches once they were in place and setting up cans of flowers. Another man was setting up the sound system. A beautiful spot for a wedding, albeit windy.

Raymond and I started down the beach. I decided to soak in every glorious moment because I figured I had a half hour at best. With Raymond, a long, leisurely stroll was out of the question.

While we walked, we chatted a bit and I took a few pictures. But for a good part of the time, I let my mind roam. Unfettered by work, chores or anything else, I was surprised by some of my dreamy imaginings.

One thing people don’t realize is that it takes a lot of “free space” to be able to write. A mind that’s absorbed in general busy-ness is not free to receive or formulate ideas. In fact, it’s next to impossible to generate any sort of creative work when you’re stressed, running from place to place, and checking things off a to-do list.

Now back to my imaginings. I’d like to share some random thoughts that popped up on my beach walk. Nothing earth-shattering, but still, things that came to mind. Some of them may find a way into future pieces of writing or art work.

  1. 1. The beach is a magical place, a living, breathing thing.
  2. 2. The water is a moody lover – one minute warmly welcoming you in its calm and soothing embrace, the next, storming, raging and pulling you under.
  3. 3. I love how the water kisses the shoreline. A long, deep, passionate kiss.
  4. 4. Sometimes I think the waves are whispering to me.
  5. 5. The smell of the shore – that cool, briny scent – speaks to my DNA, a reminder that it all started with water.
  6. 6. My soul recognizes the ancient wisdom of this shore.
  7. 7. If only we could live our lives more deeply attached to the currents, tides, sun and wind.
  8. 8. Life really is better on bare feet.
  9. 9. From the universal perspective, I’m barely a grain of sand. I am part of this world, but I am NOT the world.
  10. 10. The beach is cheap medication with next to no side effects.

After about fifteen minutes walking one way, Raymond wanted to turn around. I expected that so I wasn’t upset. Strolling back towards the boardwalk, I reflected on the story of my great-grandfather who escaped a TB epidemic by moving to the shores of Covehead Bay to live with the fishermen. The fresh ocean breeze and a basic diet composed mainly of seafood kept him healthy and strong while his bedridden siblings lay dying in darkened, stifling rooms. The healing power of the sea.

Soon I’ll be off to Greece on a writing retreat. I’ll be staying on a remote little island, and I’m guessing there will be a beach in the proximity. If that’s the case, I plan to spend some time there to make up for this summer’s missed opportunities. And if you need to reach me? Call me on my shell. 🐚 😀

To my valued readers: For the first time since I started my blog, I’m going to take a vacation. In mid-September, I’m heading to Greece for a writing retreat, and I am so excited! I need to spend some time getting ready to go, and of course, while I’m there, I want to relax and focus on my other writing. I plan to resume my weekly posts on October 13 and hope you will come back to visit. – Heather