I am a Beach

Growing up in San Diego, I remember the beach as a mystic edge between land, sea and water. The restless waves lapping up against the sandstone, eroding it slowly, seemed to reflect my restlessness to get away, leave family and home and become someone different, bigger than the dutiful son I was. Yet the sand itself, the beach, seemed a different slate. Not restless, but forming and reforming in graceful curves, inviting one to write an ephemeral message into it. Many times I wrote my name and watched it wash away, a reminder that one day I too would wash away without a remaining trace and no one left to remember me or grieve my absence. This is our mortal fate. This is why we must spend every second that we are blessed to have as kind, loving and compassionate fellow travelers in time.

And so I decided to write a story about a beach that is aware, that welcomes guests knowing each too soon will be gone forever, like their writings in the sand, washed away be the tides of time.
I am a beach. Waves of emotion wash over me, gently caressing me with seaweed fronds, seashells and sand dollars. Even the sand crabs I welcome as they wash in and burrow into my belly.
As full moon arrives, reason returns to rule and wring me out. From time to time storms assault me, cutting into my shape, reforming me into wild, senseless new heaps. Then the wind and waves gently bring me back to sensibility, something inviting to those who come to visit. I wonder which I like better, the calms or the storms. I decide I love them both as much, but differently, as a child loves both mother and father fervently but differently.
It is the hurricane, the cyclone, the tsunami I fear. These can utterly destroy me, removing my beachy sand granules, dispersing them to other coasts, leaving only rocks behind. And I would then be different in kind, a rocky coastline, not a beach any longer. Lovely shells would break upon me. Sand crabs would no longer visit. And see turtles arriving at season to lay their eggs would be only a fading memory.
And yet what can I do? I must accept all that comes. I find joy in my present beachiness. I cry out in distress at the thought of the great storms to come that will carry my sand out to the sea. I exist, I accept, I rejoice in all that happens. I learn and grow in wisdom as the seasons pass, yet know that an end is inevitable, at some time, in some season.
I choose to believe that even after my end, sand will gather where I once was, and I will be whole again. Perhaps some of my wisdom will drift in with the sand. And if not, I will just start my life’s journey over, once again.
A woman came down the cliffs today and wrote words in my sand. I couldn’t read them, of course; I don’t have eyes. Then she walked up near my brow and sat down, looking out to sea. I shared peace and comfort with her as together we watched the gulls wheel and the sun set and the tide come in to wash her words away. Tears ran down the hard-packed sand and melted into the salty sea. I wonder if the ocean is formed from all the tears and broken hearts of uncounted generations. I ask and imagine I hear the murmured reply, “y ee sss” as waves come rolling in.


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