Ocean helps us to let go

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 22, 2011

There was a crowd on the beach Sunday morning. In fact, people staked their claim on a spot near the water early, as my husband discovered when he arrived with our gear.

Under a blue sky, beside a clear aqua-colored gulf we sat feeling the breeze that blew past, shaking our umbrellas and offering a bit of relief from the heat. At the edge of the water, kids threw boards into the surf, hopping on and gliding for a few feet before jumping off.

Further down the beach, a group of boys hoisted a canoe-shaped raft over their heads and dropped it into the waves. After unsuccessful tries at climbing aboard, they belly flopped over it, laughing when several of them fell off disappearing under the water only to pop up sputtering and laughing more loudly.

Back and forth people walked, passing with smiles and hellos as they hiked their way toward some unknown destination down the beach, smiling again when they passed by on the return trip.

Some traveled in groups, talking and laughing. Couples passed holding hands lost in each other’s company. A few folks held phones to their ears or tapped out text messages as they dug their toes into the sand. There were runners dripping with sweat as wires from headphones bounced up and down keeping time with their steps.

Now and then a lone walker ambled by, stopping to pick up a shell or to examine some piece of treasure lying in the sand.

From our vantage point, my husband and I watched the parade pass by. Meanwhile our daughter stood silently as waves broke at her feet. She stared out over the water, occasionally shaking her hands in front of her body as she jumped up and down.

Finally, I joined the westward march down the beach, walking close enough to feel a light kiss from the waves as they embraced the shore. I smiled and nodded at other beach people moving in the opposite direction.

After a few minutes an internal signal directed me to turn around and head back east. Moving slowly, feeling in touch with the rhythm of the waves, I wondered about the why of it all. Why do we come to the water? Why do the tides draw us? Why do we long for the feel of the sand and the sound of the waves?

Looking up, I saw my daughter sitting in a low chair letting the water to wash over her legs and I thought that perhaps she, who lives life in the land of autism, knew the answers to my questions.

For her, I think, the beach is a release from the challenges of her life. The sound of the surf drowns out the world’s noise that is at times overwhelming for her. Perhaps, the gentle in and out of the waves grabs her attention, allowing her to let go of other things that crowd into her awareness. Maybe the softness of the sand is soothing and the feel of the pressure of the water comforting to what, at times, must be an overloaded system.

And isn’t most of that true for all of us? Isn’t there something about being near water that invites us to be still and enjoy the moment? Don’t we in some way feel our connection to nature and to each other better when we relax into the rhythm of those waves? Aren’t we better at letting go of the busyness of life when we walk beside the sea?

Perhaps a quote speaks to why people, like me, stake claim to a sandy spot under a bright blue sky, beside a clear aqua-colored gulf on a sunny Sunday morning.

“The waves of the sea help me get back to me.” Jill Davis