Observations from Vacation

I was excited to get away last week for some time at the beach- my favorite place! The quiet time allowed me to sit back and make some vacation observations.

While I am certainly drawn to the sun and warmth this time of year, there is something equally compelling about the ocean.  The enormity of the ocean grounds me. I feel connected to the power of the earth and the regularity of the tides. The ocean is so sure of itself, powerful in its consistency.  It does not look back to the seas of yesterday and apologize for what was.  It is present and steadfast. The ocean starts off fresh each day knowing that the goal for the day is predetermined- waves will continue to roll in and out.  There is no tomorrow to think about or plan for.  The ancient one has already determined the cycle of the tides. I take comfort in the certainty of the waves, yet I am also intimidated by the power. Standing near the ocean, I am humbled and my place in the vast world is recalculated.

Because we were traveling at an off time, most of the fellow beachgoers were parents with young children, retired couples, or groups of older women (who were traveling together or whose husbands were golfing).  We are none of those :-).  For the first time in a long time, I didn't feel like we quite fit in. We are decidedly midlifers. This is not exactly bad, just different. As I watched the young parents play in the sand with their little ones, I felt a stab of emotion. Such sweet times for these young families and they have so much joy ahead of them.  But, I also felt a quiet sense of relief.  There was no one to chase around.  There was no one I had to protect from drowning or sunburn or sea creatures :-).  I could truly let go and relax.  Nothing to do but listen to the snippets of conversation drifting by.

As I listened to the conversations of the older people around us, I heard wonderful stories of traveling and making the best of life.   I saw sisters laughing with each other on girl's trips and wives enjoying the beach while their husbands played golf.  I also heard stories about people with serious health issues, and those dealing with the loss of their spouses.  One woman was just recently diagnosed with cancer and was on the phone with her doctor considering treatment options. All served as a stark reminder that life is short.  We are blessed with today and if God is willing and we are given many more years to live, we hope to do so as actively as possible.  Although we don't have control over many things, we can do our best to take care of our health.  Seeing people live an active life in their older years is motivation to work out even when I don't feel like it.

Sitting under our cabana on the beach,  I realized that my husband and I would go through long periods of time without conversation.  We were both reading books, people watching, napping.  After listening to me talk (too much) about the book I was reading, and me listening to him talk (at length) about the architecture and layout of the building; I'm sure a little quiet was appreciated! It is another gift of this time that we can sit in companionable silence.  There is no need to fill every moment with conversation.  We don't have to provide a running commentary on what the girls are doing, or what the schedule is on any given day.  He no longer thinks my silence is a sign of discord, he recognizes that silence is part of who I am. It is a sign of maturity in our lives and our relationship that we can enjoy each other's company without saying a word.  

We continue to get comfortable with this new stage of life.  When everything seems to be changing, and life looks much different than it used to, I am so thankful for the constants.  Maybe that is why the beach seems to have a stronger hold on me these days.  When I return to the beach and see the sand and the water, I am once again connected to the greater rhythms of life.  Leaving behind the daily rituals of parenting and school life can cause you to feel a bit unmoored.  Watching the waves, I can feel myself settling into the calming rhythm of a world that has always been and will continue to be. Whatever my circumstances, the world keeps turning and the ocean keeps churning. There is comfort in that.  I will continue to seek that reminder. 

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