I’ve just returned home from a week spent by the Atlantic Ocean. My favorite beach activities are walking along the shore looking for seashells, watching birds and dolphins play and remembering what a tiny, although vital, part of the Universe I am.
I try to read the many books I drag along each time in anticipation of leisurely literary hours. I’m usually unsuccessful in this undertaking. But, I always leave with more knowledge and understanding than I came with by taking the time to just be here now. The ocean has a way of teaching things that are not found in books.
In Anne Morrow Lindberg’s classic book on women’s lives, Gift from the Sea, she muses on what the real gifts are that she is taking home with her from her seaside vacation. It’s not the shells she has collected; she returns most of them to the sea. She finally concludes:
“Perhaps this is the most important thing for me to take back from beach-living: simply the memory that each cycle of the tide is valid; each cycle of the wave is valid; each cycle of a relationship is valid.”
Yes, this: Each cycle of life is valid and needful. Each wave. Each sunset and sunrise.
I read this short, but important, book each year when I’m on a beach vacation. There’s so much wisdom tucked between its pages. I read it when I was a young mother of two toddlers, and I read it still as a mother of young women who are older than I was the first time I read it! Life passes us by so quickly.
I like to ponder what I’ll take back with me when I return home each time. That has changed over the years. As I grow older, my list grows smaller:
I want more simple living and less stuff. I want more evenings by the firepit, more coffee on the back deck and less busyness. I want more quiet dinners and less artificial noise. I want more time and love and meaning and less clutter. I want to be content and to live each moment in gratitude and awareness for all I have, while not adding any more to it. I want to be surrounded by family, friends and nature. I want to encourage, uphold and support. I want to be a peacemaker and lightbringer. That’s what I’m taking home from this family trip to the beach–a kinder, gentler, less-hurried, simplified version of myself.
That’s my gift to me from the sea.
All photos taken by me September 2017, South Carolina.