Writers need the beach.
When I posted a picture of the ocean from my beach chair on Facebook, nearly 100 people chimed in with their envy or witty comeback to my simple description: “Today’s office.”
The temperature was at least 20 degrees higher at home. We could have probably dined on a burger as tasty as the one we found at an old, established hangout just feet from the sand closer to home and I could have easily read magazines curled up in a chair in the air conditioning.
But I needed the ocean.
I didn’t even bring my bathing suit, content in my sundress, watching a handful of kids dragging boogie boards through the mild surf. Sitting in my Costco Tommy Bahama chair, I watched a man closer to my age try to go out a little further and ride his surfboard on the swells. I noted that the Shore Patrol boats were making regular back-and-forth trips just past the people in the water.
I didn’t want to know why.
Writers have pinball brains, which go along naturally with having the attention span of a grapefruit. Either there are one or a dozen stories tripping over each other in our heads to get out, or we’re desperately trying to make sense of the snippets of those peeking around our mental corners just to tease us and leave us empty-fingered at the keyboard.
If it seems we’re off to the Bahamas, we’re not ignoring you, we’re absorbing so much that the little black and yellow figures upstairs (yes, my childlike imagination can picture them) are scrambling to make sure all the things don’t fall off the desk in our brain before we have a chance to put them down in words. There’s not a lot of space upstairs because we’re notorious mental collectors, one magazine copy away from cerebral hoarders.
We’re in constant motion, even when it looks like we’re sitting still. Life changes – the biggest ones to the seemingly insignificant – affect us differently because we’re always looking for framing. When something happens, we bear that unseen yoke of being the message bearers, the people who put things in perspective or spinning them in a favorable or less-than-stellar direction for the rest of the world.
Writers are often excited, ebullient and exhausted, all at once.
Which is why we need the ocean.
I’d been trying to get to the beach for a long time, but life kept getting in the way. My greatest fantasy is to live there, not in a palatial glass-walled mansion, but a little house with shells on the porch, colorful flags and flowers, a couple of sitting chairs and a window or two to the constant coming and going of rhythms governed by a much larger force than silly humans.
To me, going to the beach is like going to the clockmaker to get my watch back into cadence, to hear and see and smell and feel the earth’s rhythm and allow my soul to relax and follow along gently.
I love to watch the way the water comes to shore, crashing, creeping, sweeping back with a rush or an amble, sometimes going back in rivulets, other times with strong undertow. When I’m feeling adventurous, I like to stand ankle-deep in the sand and feel a power much stronger than mine shake me up a bit, then smooth me out as the waters calm.
Standing on the sand grounds me, especially when I consider the composition of what’s beneath my toes – miniaturized bits and pieces of sea creatures, shells, sponges, rocks, sea glass and other detritus, all smashed together over and over and over, polished and reshaped endlessly by the tides and presenting themselves anew with every wave.
Would that my inner scribe could absorb their stories and blend them into mine.
Photo by Dr. Gary Greenberg from “A Grain of Sand: Nature’s Secret Wonder,” http://www.amazon.com/Grain-Sand-Natures-Secret-Wonder/dp/0760331987