A Walk On the Beach: Or Living in the Present Moment
On the beach today children were running in the sun, the sand and the water. Their shouts of joy had to be savoured like a good Christmas dinner. It was a gift to be old, young, middle aged or any age - a marvel to be alive. Lovers were walking arm in arm. Joggers were coaxing more miles from limber limbs. The kites were flying high and colourful in the breeze. Two wind-buggies, under skilful hands and acute eyes, flew along the strand. In the distance boys played ball to the rhythms of the sea, and little girls screamed in delight at the power of the surf.
Further along, beyond the wind shelter, a man carefully picked his way through the rocks, and plunged into the cool shock of the sea. The plunging down was good, then a head surfaced, and arms rhythmically caressed the water. You would think the very sea was breathing. Another head, bobbing up and down, followed the straight edge of the pier. Two women passed, talking of their holidays in the sun - Tenerife, Costa del Sol, the Canaries or God knows where. Another person was talking about going for medical tests. Indistinct voices of swimmers rose up from the shelters to greet the passers-by. It was the magic talk of sailors who had been to exotic lands. There was laughter and life in the air. Two boys, excitedly talking to each other, fished from the side of the bridge. Bicycles, cars and motorbikes passed. The sun had coaxed so many out from under the privacy of their own roofs. Everyone was occupied in doing something or nothing. It was a gift to sit as well as to do.
All too quickly the walker was by the side of the main coast road. It was after five in the evening, and the traffic was streaming home from work. Radios blared in some cars. Most just sped home, unperturbed and unknowing in their own little world. You could still see the sea and hear the call of the sea fowl. The walker could easily identify the excited piping of the oyster catchers. On the far side of the road the park beckoned, waving trees and shrubs in invitation. But that was a walk for another more sedate and tidy day.
After the noise of the traffic and the smell of exhaust fumes, the causeway stretched out a warm invitation. More birds sang, whistled and screamed all unknown to the untutored ear of the walker. Still it was a lively and invigorating sound, natural and unspoiled. Along the pathway unidentified wildflowers gave the lie to those who only saw weeds. A flock of redshanks shot across the causeway, and was met by flight of oystercatchers coming in the other direction. A girl passed smiling, listening to another music. On the left there were golfers teeing off - a different world entirely.
At the round-about cars were busily entering and exiting from the beach. There was still much life in the air. The walker spotted a bench, a welcome rest. Then there was time to sit, be still and listen to the self. There were some six books in the rucksack, but he did not bother opening any of them. Instead he took his pen and some paper. It was time to write down anything from his teeming brain. There was so much going on, so much to see, so much to hear, and so much to listen to. He could smell the seaweed, the salt in the air, the sand, the marrem and the twist of vegetation. How could one refuse to write down some words that might pay homage to such marvels? As he wrote a big red car passed. The driver, a big rosy-cheeked old man, was unselfconsciously doing his Pavarotti imitation act. A family was packing up for the homeward journey. A lifeguard passed, a day's work done.
The walker knew that he could so easily have been elsewhere. The day itself could have been so much worse weather-wise. One might almost believe there was no suffering, death or dying in the world. One might further assume that parents never fought, that children never threw tantrums and that adolescents never rebelled. One might almost believe that there was no evil on the very planet. He had thought and written too much about those things before. Today it was good to be alive and marvel in the persistence of life to deny its own vulnerability, even if it was only to be for an hour or two on the beach on a summer’s day. Now is the most important moment in your whole life, the walker thought. As he returned to the car, he plucked some grass and tasted its sap. All the senses must rejoice on such a day as this!
The above is a very interesting picture which I took of a footprint in the sand at Donabate beach some weeks back. It seems to be standing out in relief rather than being indented in the sand. An optical illusion I should imagine!