Catharsis at the Beach

Some years ago, I took my children and some friends to Punta Leona.  My children have always enjoyed going to the beach but have relied on their Dad to take them since I have always preferred the mountains for my recreation and renewal.   In my ‘new me’ attitude, however, I volunteered for the outing, noting that it would be the first time we would travel in that direction on the new highway, satisfying my need that something new be seen or learned!

We began our journey before 9 a.m. and I was impressed by the road.  We were behind a couple of slow vehicles and I soon forgot my intention to time the trip exactly so we could compare it to the old way via San Mateo and Orotina.  As we made our way along the road, I was particularly struck by the absence of colors of nature, reminders of the dry season we were in.  I commented to my daughter that I preferred the rainy season; that I couldn’t wait until we were on the road again in a few months.  She answered that I needed to look at the present offering the way an artist (she) does, noting the different shades of a particular color (in this case yellows) and admiring their beauty.  I thanked her for her insight and thought about her comment for the rest of the day, resolving to look at things from another perspective.

When we arrived at the beach, my children took the lead and found a spot where we would ‘camp’ for the day.  The spot was perfect for sitting and relaxing; close enough to the water but far away enough from other beach lovers and their things.  The five teenagers who were with me took themselves off to the water (I do have my limits!) and I was left alone to ponder and observe things around me, one of my favorite activities under any conditions!  I watched as sea gulls flew with abandon and pelicans did it with purpose.  I observed small children run around carefree and others working to make their sand castles.  I saw couples walking leisurely along the beach and a few athletes running instead.  I glanced at tourists taking pictures and others just absorbing the sensations of nature.

My eyes were suddenly captivated by the sight of a solitary man who set up his ‘camp’ very close to the water.  He took his time arranging his chair until it was exactly the way he wanted.  He proceeded to remove his items from his backpack and I became aware of an uncomfortable feeling in me of recognition.  The man took out his iPod (for music), a book (for learning), a cell phone (lest he get a call), a notebook (for that important idea), a laptop (for writing to his fans?). By the time he began applying his sunblock, I was exhausted!  I made a promise to myself in that moment of solitude that I would not take out a single one of my matching items and that I would not even bring them on subsequent trips (well, maybe the cell phone).

It was a wonderful day for me.  I absorbed all the sights and sounds around me and felt wonderfully connected to everything.  I realize now that it is all the ‘stuff’ I felt I needed to pack for these outings that made a trip to the beach feel heavy. Isn’t it funny how things can change in an instant?  It’s a good idea to get rid of stuff to make our lives lighter!

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