I’ve come to the beach for a few days. I’m in the company of two dear friends, both of whom live far from me. Our times together are infrequent, yet the friendship runs deep and true and is instantly alive whenever we meet.
The trip to get here was grueling. Like passing through a portal that is far too small for comfort. Three plane rides, sitting in middle seats between people who were not my people. They were unobtrusive enough, although the weirdness seemed to intensify with each plane ride. On the longest one I sat between a young man who had a big lipful of chew, the spittle constantly being added to a water bottle that he kept in his seat pocket and a habitually vacationing margarita drinker from Coeur d’Alene Idaho who was just tryin’ to get through the winter. Between the smell of alcohol on her breath and the sight of his brown liquid…well, it was a long flight. Maybe I was just being a little precious about it all, but nevertheless I was grossed out.
Then there was my choice of traveling equipment. For some reason I thought it was a good idea to buy a new backpack, as I haven’t had one for years. I found one at TJ Maxx a couple of days before I left that just looked perfect. And it is pretty perfect, easy enough to carry and all, with a cunning little compartment for my laptop and lots of well placed pockets everywhere. I loaded it up with my computer and other special stuff and used it as my carryon. It fit alright under the seat and all, but it’s heavy, and it has no hidden wheels. So as I slogged through the airport weighted down with my perfect backpack, my knee beginning to ache, I kind of wished for some of those little wheels on the flashy new underseat bags I’ve been seeing hawked on Facebook so much lately. However, one of those wouldn’t have fit under Delta’s new supremely skinny seats. Why they fit three seats in such a small space I can’t imagine. They were definitely not considering the comfort of their guests. It’s clearly about dollars.
Anyway, after a long day of travel I arrived at this perfect beach house in Panama City Beach, Florida. It is right on the Gulf of Mexico. Dolphins cavort out in front of us as we sit in our Restoration Hardware living room or on our lovely white wooden balcony. The sand is white with trails of bird footsteps and the shells plentiful, small and perfect.
I walked on the beach today and it occurred to me that sometimes the best life experiences include an ordeal in order to arrive and be fully present. As I walked along the water’s edge picking up tiny shells I kept thinking “Gifts from the Sea.” And then my mind went to Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s book of nearly the same title. Was she talking about seashells or a different sort of gifts? I haven’t read it yet, but I will soon.
When the water lapped at my feet I thought of the gifts of peace and rhythm that the sea offers, the opportunity to think of nothing as I watch for the next wave to arrive, knowing without a doubt that it will. It seems to loosen the knots within me without any effort on my part and there comes an understanding that all things soften with time. Will that knowledge lead to a nurturing of my patience? For a few days anyway? One can hope.