The wisdom of beaches

sunset

I’m spending some time with my sister this week in Newport Beach. I booked this trip a day before I was fired in January and I suppose that is fortunate for my sister because otherwise, I may have left my return trip open-ended.

The world just feels so much bigger here – in all manner of ways. I guess the Pacific Ocean has something to do with it. Cue the ocean if you really want some good reflection time.

I find myself thinking less and less of my old life, the one where I was responsible for 17 staff and several hundred clients. I certainly think about many of my beloved colleagues and I’m so grateful that I had a chance to properly mark our time together at a gathering a few weeks ago.

It was a chilly night but we sat outside in a circle around a tall heat lamp in a makeshift cabana. We laughed a lot and we cried a little and we held each other in embraces free of any self-consciousness, the ones where  you don’t worry if it’s too long are too tight. It was a remarkably intimate evening and I’m certain that we all savored every minute of it. We know what we shared was special – almost sacred in some ways – and that can never be taken away.

Today, I am more angry than sad. I know that I was treated unfairly and ungraciously. I also know that life is rarely fair and the deaths of two friends in January certainly gave me some sobering perspective on the magnitude of my loss.

I find myself looking forward and while that can be a little scary, it is also terribly exciting. I feel lighter these days, more present.

Yesterday on the beach, metaphors were practically bopping me in the head like a cartoon character.

cartoon

I get it!

I took a long walk and stopped to watch the waves crashing against the jagged jetty – that’s how I felt for several weeks earlier this year – battered. And later in the day, I saw three children frolicking in the water – the frigid water. They were so impossibly brave – standing there to face the oncoming waves and they squealed with delight as they got smacked back on their heels.

jetty

Enough of that.

I want to be brave like them. I want to not be afraid. I want to delight in the unknowing.

kids

I wish this photo had a soundtrack.

Late in the day, my sister and I walked to a perfect perch to view the sunset – the magnificent California sunset. It was brilliant and so quickly vanished. And then there was that exquisite time of every day – the gloaming. The sun is gone but it is not quite yet dark and there is a peace in the air that is almost palpable. My dear friend, Sarah, shared a wonderful song with me by Over the Rhine about this magical time, “Favorite Time of Light.” It goes like this:

It’s our favorite time of light
Just before the day kisses the night
You see the redwing blackbirds fly
The sun’s a big ol’ lazy eye
When they lay me down at last
And this life is finally past
Just remember me this way
And don’t forget to say
It’s our favorite
Our favorite time of light

gloaming

The gloaming.

I’ve been reading on the beach, too, and yesterday I finished The Great Spring: Writing, Zen, and This Zig-Zag Life by Natalie Goldberg. She has long been one of my favorite authors and I’m fairly certain she wrote this latest book just for me. Of course, that’s what all the truly great writers do – make that connection that the reader so desperately longs for.

Goldberg writes, “The Great Spring includes the Great Failure, the thorough-going reduction to nothing, to loss, disappointment, shame, betrayal. If we can stand sill and attentive in our lives and not run away, even right in the middle of the ruins, we will find fertile ground.”

I’ll be home soon. I have some planting to do.

beach

That’s me, looking forward.

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