Sunday, June 18, 2006


There is nothing like standing in the sand on an almost empty beach.

Your feet in the water. The tide coming in, out. To your left nothing but wide open space, deep blue water, a horizon so far away and almost impossible to reach; to your right, ditto.

Everything is clear and available.

I stood in the water and let the waves do what waves do. I looked up at the sun and was grateful for its heat.

Earlier, by the pool, watching her son bounce his inflatable ball around the deck, the Japanese teacher explained, in her halting but understandable English, why she had left Japan. The Japanese people have forgotten what life is about, she said. Everybody is concerned only about money, she said. Not friends, not family, but money. And she didn't want her son to grow up in that environment. She understood what was important in life now. It's not money, she said. Money is only money.

She looked at us for understanding.

She got it.

I stood on the sand and in the water. Both at the same time. Somehow that is possible. I stood and watched the water and wondered. About the brevity of life.

Someday I will be gone but the beach will remain. The water is not going anywhere. Somebody else will stand upon this same sand on a similar day and ponder similar thoughts. Nothing original about my thoughts, I realized, but then again: who cares? There is nothing original about sand or water, and yet consider what brilliance, what illumination they have given me. Time and time again.

Whenever I feel lost I try to find some beach and some wind and some space and some air. (Not consciously, but I find them.) In such circumstances I can feel small, and thus grateful for my size. There are things bigger than myself that will endure after I am gone. Others, later, decades from now, centuries from now, will travel similar paths and ask identical questions. Such monotony and repetition will then achieve a kind of bland, stubborn grace that remains, for the most part, unrecognized.

But I can feel linked.

There is nothing like standing in the sand on an almost empty beach.

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