I’m sure there’s a reason beyond simple scientific reasoning for why the sounds of the ocean soothe us lowly human beings.
I think, because we are made up of so much water ourselves, being close to the waves draws us closer to something deeply elemental about our own physical makeup.
But it’s more than that. I can’t pinpoint it, but it’s there.
It’s our last morning here in Perdido Key. I resolved to take a sunrise walk by this morning, having been too sick the last two.
I wanted to see the sunrise. But I also wanted shells.
I took my obligatory photos of the sunrise and then headed west, scouring the shore for my treasures.
But I wasn’t finding much.
It was, honestly, disappointing me.
I had risen early, and it looked like my quest was to be in vain.
But as I walked, the people walking toward the sunrise smiled at me. Looks of complete tranquility on their faces as they strolled toward the ever-ascending sun.
I finally stopped and sat down for a rest. And then, I decided to start making my way back.
As I did so, I stopped a few times and stood in the surf. The tides were strong, and I felt the sand pulling out from under my feet. The water like a small child, tugging at her mother’s shirttails. “Stop,” she whispered.
As I looked down at my feet, I saw the sand being pulled back like a blanket, and tiny shells peeking out from underneath. “Your treasure is here,” she whispered again, “stop searching so hard.”
As I headed east, I began to notice little pockets of shell deposits along the way. Nothing spectacular, but though small, they were unbroken. Unblemished.
Among the shells I found a nickel. The etching almost literally “sanded” down to nothing. In another week, it would have probably been unidentifiable by its most familiar markings.
And then thought hit me.
Here I was, seeking treasure on the shore, and I found what I spend the bulk of my time pursuing. Nickels. Dimes. Dollars.
Important, yes. Necessary. But oh so fleeting. And temporary.
Not like the water. Not like true treasures.
Later this week, I’ll be back to pursuing the temporary, necessary nickels and dimes it takes to sustain life. But it will be with a slightly renewed perspective on the process.
I pursue all things I desire with determination, often pushing myself so hard that when I finally stop, sickness ravages my body, finally free from the stress hormones it generally feeds upon.
Too often I forget to just stand in the surf, and let the tides reveal something to me. I don’t notice the smiles of the people heading toward me. I don’t appreciate the fragility of the life that I build with all of that stress.
I forget to simply enjoy it.
But I was gently reminded this morning that the treasure we seek is not always the treasure we find.
In fact, it’s usually even better. If we’ll stop long enough. Breathe. Let it be.