An Untamed Haven
Families and friends coalesce along the seashore, reclining on colorful, over sized picnic blankets, clambering on their hands and knees around mounds of elaborate, toppling sand castles, and jovially splashing and teasing each other in the frolicking surf. Great tricolored umbrellas stand idly to the side, neglected, forgotten, and useless. Their white rusty trunks are thrust haphazardly in the sand, tilting precariously. The vibrant expanse of their plumage ruffles presumptuously in the breeze in a vain attempt to attract attention. Shade is a forgotten luxury now. People stretch out full length on the warm sand, content to soak up the last few rays of beaming sunshine from an expiring summer.
Carefree people tranquilly repose in the absorbing warmth, lazily tucking away anxieties, schedules, and strife. They enjoy these moments for all they are worth; a respite from the daily grind and an essential break from routine and….well, life. That is what the sun does for man; penetrating through to the root of his heart, a soothing balm and a relaxing tonic.
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A college student naps in the sand next to her cell phone, iPod, and tanning oil, and refuses to think about upcoming exams. Already her shoulders appear slightly pink after all her determination to enjoy herself. A lone sailboat listlessly drifts by, white sails gently flapping. Scampering children ensue in frivolous, light hearted games to amuse themselves and entertain an audience of onlookers whom they pretend not to notice. A toddler is overjoyed to discover a trail of miniscule footprints that magically trail behind her by the water. Two little boys laboriously undergo the construction of an elaborate sandcastle furbished with stick flags and a moat. All of a sudden an unexpected wave devours the moat and floods the battlements, collapsing towers and melting the facade of the ephemeral fortress. Man’s efforts can just as easily implode and fall apart, all labor in vain, destroyed by a sudden, impulsive circumstance. Are all man’s struggles and accomplishments in life for naught, then? What is the purpose of progress and achievement if only to be destroyed and undone in the end? Man will continue to make grandiose, bold plans for his future, but a greater force is still at work that will direct his steps and the eventual outcome.
The tide is coming in. Frothing waves roll on and on incessantly, persistently beating their existence into the pliable, conforming shore. Sand is not reliable. It shifts and erodes and forms its endless thoughts and ideas into hills and pools only to change its mind again and wash away those silly notions; sporadic notions, conceived momentarily before coercion to the persistent impositions of unruly waves. The waves impress themselves upon the shore, seeking conformation to their will and image. No man can stop the sea; can prevent the tide from rising or drawing back to the inner recesses of the ocean’s bosom. No more could a man avert the sun from rising each day or the seasons from changing.
The sea must be a vexing consternation to mankind. Men, such as politicians, can fix the outcome of elections, manipulate the rise or fall of the stock market, and influence businesses, corporations, each other, even democracy itself, yet no man can predetermine the plans of the sea. The sea is entirely unpredictable. Just as each individual snowflake is entirely unique, every wave, every swell is an unprecedented masterpiece of creation. Each wave is a living, thriving entity, an individual, transitory visage blended in the vast wholeness of its greater part. Charging ahead, passionate and intent, the waves soon tumble into oblivion, forever lost as they dissolve back into the great body from whence they were birthed. Rolling onward, ever forward, relentless, never ceasing for all eternity. How can it be that such a thing as wild and daunting as the sea is a source of relaxation and comfort?
People acknowledge the vast mightiness and depth and power of the ocean and are comforted that there it exists, with all its own troubles, yet is content to stay within its boundaries; tossing and turning and frothing; impatient, always moving, always changing and reforming, yet stationary and the same. Those on the shore have no fear of their proximity to such an untamed recreation because of a mutual understanding of trust. Man has a reverence for the ocean and accepts its independent, free spirit and is blessed to procure entertainment on the fringes of the sea in safety and harmony.
On the shore a frisky golden retriever dashes pell-mell after a slobbery, green tennis ball and nose dives into a wave. One moment he is triumphantly galloping back to his master with the prize dripping in his mouth and the next all his attention is completely absorbed in a petite Westie trotting by without a leash. Eagerly sniffing noses, prancing around in circles, stubby and pluming tails feverishly wagging; the dogs investigate yet another potential playmate. A high pitched whistle jerks the golden retriever back to reality and he dashes off to his master, the forgotten prize abandoned on the sand. An old married couple chuckle over their ice teas and reminisce about the good old days when they were young. An enthusiastic teenage boy futilely tries to teach his girlfriend how to throw and catch a football. The girl misses an underhand pass and bends over to retrieve the elusive object, her skinny, blond ponytail bobbing determinedly. Sitting on a nearby beach towel a pre-teen girl sits next to her parents eating Doritos from the cooler and yearningly glances at the pair with curious eyes. A well built man in his mid thirties jogs shirtless along the shoreline. He has all the running gear, the outfit, the body. He is doing pretty good. No signs of balding yet; he is confident that he has still got it. A hundred strides behind him a midget of a grandma slowly but steadily plods along in her pink tennis shoes, grateful that she still has the ability to exercise. It’s for her health, really, and the grandkids. Boy, they sure do love Grammy’s chewy oatmeal raisin chocolate chip cookies! A chubby father and son race each other on boogie boards, trying to see who can ride the wave in the farthest. Three little girls, two towheads in wispy pigtails and a freckled curly redhead giggle and squeal as raucous seagulls descend like an army to devour tossed crusts from peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. “That’s the best part; the part that the oven kissed!” a mother absent-mindedly scolds.
The pungent ocean smell is a briny, invigorating stimuli that catches hold of the wind and whips around in a free spirited dance. People deeply inhale the cool breeze that frisks over the sand dunes and pervades the atmosphere with a fresh, youthful vitality. Even now as the sun sets the breeze takes on a slight chill. The sinking sun drips liquid gold into the sea casting iridescent, glittering shadows over the water. A punctured, azure sky oozes crimson and melts like wax into the horizon. Flocks of pelicans and seagulls fly off to their nests as dusk begins to settle like a fine dust. Satisfied, refreshed people sigh contentedly, feeling rested and energized to make it through the next couple of weeks. Fathers call their children in from their play and start to pack up for the sandy haul home. A fun filled, relaxing day at the beach has come to a close. Families and friends leave to go back to their busy, fast pace lives, but the beach, ocean and waves remain; comfortable within self-imposed boundaries, an ever-present retreat to all the heavy laden.