Someone told me that “when you’ve seen one beach, you have seen them all.” I was completely speechless! Those who know me best know that I am a mermaid…a true child of the water…and the beach is my happy place, so I couldn’t disagree more. Nevertheless, the conversation was an invitation to review my beach-worship. Why is this such a thing for me? The exercise was exactly what I needed to have a more measured approach to my mania. Here my top life lessons from the surf and sand.
LESSON ONE: BE ADAPTABLE.
One of the great joys of my life is a morning walk on the beach, because it ignites me more than a double shot of espresso ever could! Some of my most profound ideas were from toes in the sand. Nevertheless, every day is a bit different. Some mornings are shrouded by fog and rain, while others reveal breathtaking sunrises and a symphony of gulls to greet you. Some mornings the tide is high and you walk with ease; if the water recesses, you might find yourself in new terrain, like a rock, seashell or jellyfish obstacle course. Some days, you walk alone, and your company is the rolling sound of waves; other days you find yourself immersed in a sea of sunbathers and snorkelers. And whether it’s chilly, humid or pristine, you’ll find that every walk on the beach is different…almost like a fingerprint. This is an allegory for life, because, even if you don’t know what’s ahead, simply show up and see where each experience leads.
LESSON TWO: WATCH FOR THE MIRACLES.
I lived on a beach for two months, and while the surging waves became a staple of my daily life, I was more than a little surprised, several mornings, to find the waters perfectly still. I mean like “surfer waves” were suddenly a swimming pool! How does this anomaly happen? I can’t even begin to understand the science of it, but it always feels like I am witnessing something special. The takeaway is to expect the unexpected in a good way. Don’t get lulled into monotony. Leave space for life to dazzle you, because it will!
LESSON THREE: A HEALTHY RESPECT FOR NATURE.
Don’t ask me why, but I think it’s fun to watch as my footprints are erased by the ebb and flow of the tides. If you stand still long enough, all traces of your arrival vanish, and you find yourself feeling small in the vastness of it all. Water is life. Our human bodies are composed of water, and we must consume it to stay alive. We bathe in it and find it soothing to listen to; we cherish it, so we build expensive homes and monuments next to it; we celebrate alongside it, with our beach and lake outings. And while it is healthy to see water as our ally, for she is, it is equally important to remember how powerful she is at creation and destruction. Remember that, over time, water literally carved the Grand Canyon with her steady persistence.
So as you’re standing on the congenial white sands of Destin, admiring dolphins in the shimmering aquamarine water, acknowledge that this is the same substance that causes hurricanes and tsunamis. That’s her darker side, so she isn’t to be trifled with. And because a population suffers when the water supply is tainted, don’t pollute her or pour chemicals into her. Water is life for us, and when we poison her, we poison ourselves. Treat her as you would your own body, because water is a big part of who you are.
LESSON FOUR: BE PRESENT IN YOUR LIFE.
If you have ever been lucky enough to visit a beach during off season, or during the morning hours when the rest of the world is asleep, you’ll know what I mean when I say it is magic to occupy such a grand space on your own. Breathe it in…that panoramic beauty, the peaceful waves, the buoyant clouds, and the playful sandpipers, were all painted by a Master Artist just for your enjoyment. In those blessed moments, the sand and surf stretch out before you and the rest of the planet falls away. Somehow you slip into a parallel reality where all the beauty, all the power, all the majesty, every laughing gull and every rippling wave is there to love you, and you are somehow there to love it right back. It is powerful to be one with all of the life around you, and these are the moments I live for, the opportunities I don’t squander.
Ancient myths proclaim the “in-betweens” as enchanted…the spaces between sunrises, sunsets, dream states, etc. I believe the beach falls in that magical middle ground, being in the center of surf, sand and sky. It is my favorite enchantress for sure, and if you are a beach lover, follow me on Instagram, lfarrimond. I would love to hear about your favorite shorelines and beach lessons!