Friday, August 8, 2008

Beach Joy, Redux

I wrote this last August, but I wanted to post it again because it's so relevant with only a few precious weeks of summer remaining. Don't waste one second of this fleeting season, my friends; soon, winter will be here and we will be dreaming of open windows, fresh corn, the smell of cut grass, sunshine.

I am taking my own advice this weekend, so you won't hear from me for a few days as I head off on a little junket.


Yesterday I witnessed a man, standing waist-deep in the Atlantic, yodeling his heart out. A full-throttle, Ricola-style yodel for all to hear. I have no explanation for this somewhat odd behavior, and it didn't seem appropriate at the time to wade out into the ocean to find one out; I chose instead to believe that this man was simply filled with such beach joy, that he couldn't contain the yodeler within.

Beach joy is one of those things that is hard to describe, but if you've ever seen a child running full-speed towards the ocean, then you sort of get an idea of what I mean. I think the best way to explain it is a feeling of complete freedom. When you have beach joy, your day-to-day baggage and worries and insecurities fall away, replaced with a desire to run, arms open, embracing all that is good in the world.

So, it comes as a surprise to me when I see people on the beach, who rather than experiencing beach joy, opt instead to do things like check email on their Blackberries, call in for their messages, chatter away on their cell phones. Now far be it from me to tell anyone how to spend their free time, but it seems to me that free time was designed to be spent, well, being free. We forget that sometimes. As a society, we tend to think that it's irresponsible to carve time out for ourselves, to get off the grid, to stop physically and mentally working. We're afraid of not being there, day after day like Atlas, holding our world aloft.

I've spent the past five days slowly putting down my globe, forgetting about bills, and deadlines and chores, and allowing beach joy to calm my busy brain, and not surprisingly, the Earth has not stopped spinning on its axis. Of course, it goes without saying that I will return home next week to lift that globe back up, but the next time I start getting stressed about a traffic jam, or a slow teller at the check-out line, the sweet memory of an elderly man yodeling in the warm, Atlantic surf, will hopefully put everything back into perspective.

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