(photo taken by rus vanwestervelt, july 27, 2010, ocean city, md; mick jagger imitation by my son purely coincidental)
The warm temperatures of the water, the pull of the full moon, and the restlessness of the mid-summer Atlantic all led me to believe that, on this day along the ocean’s shoreline, the water would be rough.
The waves were calm though, washing over us gently, soothing the remaining stresses we brought with us on vacation.
We joined Brad and his family on their beach near 107th Street, at The Quay. I dropped Amy and the kids off at the dunes and ran to get fixings for a lunch on the beach — fresh turkey, cheese, honey mustard, Maryland tomato, and some snacks. It worked perfectly. The kids were happy with a deli-style lunch on the beach, and the need for food never interrupted the flow of the day.
Brad and I spent the majority of the afternoon in the water, waiting for any waves that would periodically muster up some muscle to ride into shore. While our kids waded in the surf about 30 feet closer to the beach, we savored the solitude of being immersed in nature — literally — for several hours.
We pondered, as we believed countless others were doing up and down the coast, how to make this last, how to make a life where this was not the exception, but the rule. The buoyancy, the gentle shifting of the sand under our feet, and the sun remaining our constant high above us freed us to wonder if the world did not have it backwards, where peace and moment-savoring were not supposed to be what life is all about.
Even a modest shift in thinking would make a tremendous difference on our stress levels and our overall approach to life, wouldn’t it? We had reached a point where the time seemed as meaningless as the whereabouts of our Blackberries. Did we even bring them to the beach? It seemed at one point in the ocean, we could not remember, nor could we hardly care.
Back at the beach, our wives joined our children on the shoreline, daring the waves to crash closer and closer. We did our best to encourage them to join us, but we neglected to understand that they, too, were happy in their own place, savoring the salty waters in a completely different way.
We left the beach at 5:30 and reunited at a restaurant a few hours later for crab legs and shrimp, then returned to the ocean for a nightcap of pictures and conversation.The older girls, especially, enjoyed the freedom and the time together.
It was a day of reflection, of letting go, of celebrating friendship, of remembering our priorities. We did not need to be shocked into any of this; instead, we let the gentle lapping of the salty waves wash away those worries and cleanse us with a new sense of living.
Day three awaits. . .may we carry the calm with us along the way!