by Matthew Sanborn Smith
After a few false starts we made it out of the car and walked through the cold rain to the beach. Thanks to the weather we had the place mostly to ourselves; there were maybe a dozen people there, including us. The walk to the water went: Rough asphalt; smooth sidewalk; dirt; wooden walkway; wooden gritty step, step, step down to the soft sand; hard cutting shells; soft sand again; then the wonderful wet packed sand gushing around our feet and finally the water ran up to greet us. It darted back and forth to introduce us to this magnificent ocean thing of which it had become a part.
The children went in without hesitation. The cold wet wasn't reason for trepidation, it was fun and excitement, the first they'd had all day. I went in starts and sputters, cringing with the chill but driven relentlessly by the need to relieve my bladder. With each small wave my chest tightened and my heart sped. More and more bare skin was goosebumped until for a few moments my world went dizzy and I pretended my body had a taste of what shock must feel like. Relieved and able to think again, I moved further into the rain-dimpled sea. Up to my chin.
I looked east. To the west was civilization, hotels, human beings, a green-roofed concession area and a tall erector set of a tower with a dish on top to give it a purpose. But to the east . . . To the east was the ocean, vast and green and the broken grey sky. There wasn't room for anything else. To the east was forever, the awesome splendor of nature. I had returned to the Earth's womb for just a few moments. A dozen feet from my bobbing head, two pelicans swept across the surface of the water, their wingtips nearly slicing its rippling skin.
My son called to me. I was too far out. I let myself be gently pushed back home by wide bluish waves. They cast nets of foam at the beach which brought some sand in before dissolving. My time was done here, but I waited, for my children had thrown their worries into the sea and had surrendered their lives to joy. They, like the patient ocean, had eternity.