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Perspective — the first gift of the sea

Before we left home for our trek to the beach, I wondered if I could leave all my duties and responsibilities undone for a week.

A miraculous thing always happens when we arrive in Avon, North Carolina.

My memory gets wiped clean.

I can’t remember what I had to do that was so important it couldn’t wait.

As I sit on the deck, mesmerized by the ocean, I try to remember.

What were those things I thought I couldn’t leave undone?

Perspective is one of the gifts of the sea, I think. 

The first book I brought to our new beach house was Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea, the 50th anniversary edition.

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In the first chapter, she wrote, “The beach is not the place to work; to read, write or think. I should have remembered that from other years. Too warm, too damp, too soft for any real mental discipline or sharp flights of spirit. One never learns. Hopefully, one carries down the faded straw bag, lumpy with books,  clean paper, long over-due unanswered letters, freshly sharpened pencils, lists, and good intentions. The books remain unread, the pencils break their points and the pads rest smooth and unblemished as the cloudless sky. No reading, no writing, no thoughts even — at least not at first.

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“At first, the tired body takes over completely. As on shipboard, one descends into a deck-chair apathy. One is forced against one’s mind, against all tidy resolutions, back into the primeval rhythms of the seashore. Rollers on the beach, wind in the pines, the slow flapping of herons across sand dunes, drown out the hectic rhythms of city and suburb, time tables and schedules. One falls under their spell, relaxes, and stretches out prone. One becomes, in fact, like the element on which one lies, flattened by the sea; bare, open, empty as the beach, erased by today’s tides of all yesterday’s scribblings.

“And then, some morning in the second week, the mind wakes, comes to life again. Not in a city sense –no–but beach-wise. It begins to drift, to play, to turn over in gentle careless rolls like those lazy waves on the beach. One never knows what chance treasures these easy unconscious rollers may toss up, on the smooth white sand of the conscious mind…”

“But it must not be sought for or — heaven forbid!– dug for. No, no dredging of the sea bottom here. That would defeat one’s purpose. The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient.

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“Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach — waiting for a gift from the sea.”

The bottom line of this blog is that I need to stay longer. A week is barely enough. I need to move into the second, third and fourth week to experience the awakened mind and to receive the sea’s gifts of patience and faith.

But, at least I’ve received the first gift from the ocean — perspective and forgetting home and all the seemingly important things that I thought needed to be done.

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Personal

An Outer Banks Weekend

Doug and I drove to the Outer Banks Friday for a “business meeting” and then turned around and drove home Saturday.

Our business was buying a beach house.

After we picked up the keys, we kept saying, “Did we just buy a beach house?”

I think we shocked ourselves with this purchase.

Carolina Beach Retreat

As I sat in the family room of this new house, looking out at the ocean, I thought about our obsession with the beach.  What made us want to buy a beach house? A good rental history? A good investment? It was more than that.

Just one of the beautiful views

We’re pale, sun-sensitive, burn-and-peel-people.

So why a house at the beach?

I picked up a notebook and started writing answers to that question:

The beach is the great equalizer.

I can’t tell a CEO from a local fisherman. From the crowded aisles of Food Lion,to the sandy beaches, everyone looks the same.

And, it’s more than the sun.

It’s the state of mind, and the restful state of being.

It is the air, the pace, the friendliness, and unpretentiousness.

It’s the “ah” feeling that inspires naps, walks, bike rides, all-you-can-eat shrimp bars, ice-filled cups, and snowcones.

It’s also rainstorms, heat lightning, ocean views, pastel-colored houses, sea grass and mosquitos.

It’s salt, sand, and seafood; music and Adirondack chairs on the deck, and the smell of sunscreen.

It’s pools, hot tubs and outdoor showers.

It’s the sound and rhythm of the waves, seashells, turtle preserves, feral cats, t-shirts, shorts and flip-flops.

Kiteboarding, surfing, kites, coolers, books and acoustic guitar music; .

Beach fires, stargazing, sunrises, American flags, deep breaths, yoga classes on the beach.

Leisurely candlelight dinners, lengthy and relaxed conversations.

Games, puzzles, writing, fishermen, Bingo, and jet skis.

Hurricanes, evacuations, popsicles and pizza.

Sunglasses, miniature golf, Orange Blossom Cafe apple uglies.

Laughter, cooking, crafting, and healing

And memories.

We have so many cherished memories from beach trips with friends and with our families.

We want more of those memories.

The beach is a place for creating and cherishing memories with people we love.

Anne Morrow Lindberg wrote in Gift from the Sea, “For life today… is based on the premise of ever-widening circles of contact and communication. It involves not only family demands, but community demands, national demands, international demands on the good citizen, through social and cultural pressures, through newspapers, magazines, radio programs, political drives, charitable appeals, and so on. My mind reels in it, What a circus act we … perform every day of our lives. It puts the trapeze artist to shame. Look at us. We run a tight rope daily…”

This describes my Washington, D.C. life perfectly.

So why the beach?

Again, I turn to Anne Morrow Lindberg: “The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach—waiting for a gift from the sea.”