Note: This was written, and imagined, before I went on Labor Day holiday.
Age has its privileges. The big kids are off to college, the little ones are back in school, parents are kick-starting weekday routines, everyone has the back-to-business jitters, and me? I’m hanging at the beach.
Yesterday, battered by the sights and sounds of political life and world events, I decided to take myself to Long Beach. It definitely helped that the day was a perfect 10. And, because Labor Day had passed, I could actually find a parking space near the boardwalk.
It wasn’t just an outing; it felt as if I were fleeing — escaping the barrage of bad news pulsing out of D.C., bad policy on our southern border, bad juju with our one-time friends and allies, bad attitude by Trump & Co. toward Jews and African-Americans and Hispanics and trans people and gays and endangered species and plants and clean water and pristine forests and animal refuges. There basically is not one single humanitarian ethic or value or cause that has not been degraded by the policies of this White House.
We cannot catch up with ourselves because the stream of slurs and lies keeps coming. Nothing gets resolved. After the most recent horrific shootings, the president was for increased background checks on guns, then he wasn’t, then he was. But the issue got pushed out of view by the tariff threats and actions against China and the crashing stock market and the really smart people who are telling us that there is an unstable man at the helm of our ship of state.
We find ourselves in a scenario even the founders could not have foreseen: that we would knowingly vote into office a racist and sexist man with very little impulse control and a dangerously overblown sense of himself.
Meanwhile, back at the Democratic presidential race, the candidates are attacking one another — and President Obama — rather than the man who is deconstructing the country from the Oval Office.
So I fled to the beach and to the sea and sun and sand, which I hope and pray will survive the malicious neglect of this administration.
With school back in session, if it’s Thursday, it must be soccer practice or extra help classes, or ballet or orthodontist or religious school or play dates or flu shots. Yes, it’s all about lists, and checking off items and jumping into the car or onto the computer. And as if that isn’t enough, I’m thinking, what will I prepare for Rosh Hashana? If you think I’m joking, you’re wrong. Work pressures, family stuff and even the good times, like religious holidays and traditional meals, can pile items onto our to-do lists.
So, yes, suddenly I needed to bolt. I threw a chair in the trunk of my car and headed for the beach, which is spectacular in September. All over again I wondered at the deep, glorious expanse of white sand stretching down to the surf. It just doesn’t ever get old.
The sun was brilliant in a blue sky studded with darling little puffs of white. Oil tankers rode high on the horizon. The waves were lively, and crashed down and around the jetties. I walked along the beach and took notice of everything I could hear: my rubber soles scuffing gently on the sand, the cawing of the seabirds roosting around me, a jet soaring overhead and the waves swishing onto the shore.
At the end of a jetty, someone had placed a large American flag, which was tattered by the wind.
It was a perfect experience. Isn’t this the most we can hope for — to leave our worries behind, or at least set them aside for a while, and immerse ourselves in a setting of perfect joy, peace and beauty? It’s the timelessness of the beach, the endless rhythms of the tide and the rising sun that remind us how beautiful and big the Earth is and how relatively small our concerns are.
A few people, widely scattered, were enjoying the day. The boardwalk was only sparsely populated, and people were doing cleanup and repairs, already getting ready for the winter.
A lone fisherman stood out on the rocks, casting into the surf. The scene was solitary. The heartbeat slowed, the mind quieted and I felt like my better self as I set new footprints into the sand.
Copyright 2019 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.