late october in kitty hawk, on the outer banks of north carolina. sun, insanely blue skies and a cool breeze off the ocean, rejuvenative after the 12-hour drive from ohio.
i thought that i would do a lot of writing at the beach. no work schedule to worry about, no laundry to do or meals to plan, no errands to run. nothing but time to write, right? what I didn’t consider is how positively mind-numbing it is to be on the beach. the mesmerizing sights and sounds lulled me into a trance as i sat and gazed out at the ocean. i was hypnotized by the sight of the tiny shore birds that scurried like overly wound up toys, away from the water as it lapped the shore, pecking at the sand in a frenzy as it receded. i zoned out to the music of the waves rolling in, then crashing, then fizzling. i was calmed and soothed by the sight of dolphins swimming, surfacing and chuffing, exhaling and inhaling, then diving into the surf together, like synchronized swimmers. so efficient and natural and effortless.
so, rather than try to force words onto the page, i immersed myself in my surroundings. i walked on the beach and inhaled the salty air, remembering childhood trips to the ocean, turning my face to the sun with reckless abandon, relishing the healthy dose of vitamin d, something in short supply from now through april in northeast ohio. i imagined chuffing my mind clear of everything but what was around me: the birds, the packed sand beneath my bare feet that shifted and softened as the waves carried some back out to sea, the breeze coming off the ocean.
i passed several people fishing, including one fellow who was lying down on his back in the sand with his fishing pole perpendicular to his body, as though he'd been impaled, the end of the line bobbing in the ocean 25 feet out. i told him he had the best fishing form on the beach and he replied, "there's nothin' better than this." indeed.
another fellow, with calves and feet like tanned leather, wearing sloppy shorts, a plaid cotton shirt and a faded, beat-up denim hat to shade his grizzled face, stood motionless, gazing out to sea as though conjuring the fish to his hook. when i asked him whether he was catching breakfast or dinner, he replied "it's called fishing, not catching." no rancor, no disappointment, just simple acceptance. experiencing the vast and eternal quality of the ocean forces a change in perspective. not catching? no worries.
so i spent the rest of the week aligning myself with the idea of "fishing, not catching", not angsting over the issues of the world (which have been particularly troubling of late), or worrying about my grown sons (who i missed more for the miles and miles between us) or counting calories. i made a conscious decision to allow the days to wash over me like the gentle waves, allow them to carry me to wherever i needed to be, providing me with whatever lessons i needed. there is comfort in giving over to the rhythms of mother nature, the original crone. take the time to notice the constancy of the natural world, which has always been and will always be, long after we are gone, and draw strength from it.