This is so not the season for peace and quiet. Maybe you’re with me on this. Yesterday, battered by the sights and sounds of real life that can, at times, weigh us down, I decided to take myself to the beach.
It felt as if I were fleeing — getting away from the TV and the internet, from the assault of bad news from Syria, from escalating racial strife in our own country, from flooding in the Midwest and heat in the South that prove the threat of global warming, and from this seriously dysfunctional presidential election, which has me afraid for our security and standing in the world.
And as if that isn’t enough, I’m thinking, what will I prepare for Rosh Hashana? And 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 on items for our to-do lists. I imagine that if you’re reading this, you’re taking a moment out from your own pressured fall schedule. And this is when nothing is really wrong; it’s just everyday emotional turbulence.
With school back in session, if it’s Thursday, it must be soccer practice, or extra help classes, or ballet, or the orthodontist, or religious school, or play dates, or flu shots, or therapy appointments. Yes, it’s all about lists, and checking off items, and jumping in the car or on the computer or going back to the market for the matzo meal, because if you think Aunt Pearl will eat matzo balls from a mix, you’re crazy.
So, suddenly, I needed to bolt. I threw a chair in the trunk of my car and headed for Atlantic Beach. The charming beach community, which I fondly think of as the Grand Duchy of Fenwick (from “The Mouse that Roared”), has more restrictive beach and parking rules than seem reasonable, but I walked onto the beach, this being the off-season.
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 puffs of white. Oil tankers rode the horizon. The waves were lively, and crashed down and around the rock 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 over the Rockaway peninsula and the waves swishing onto the shore.
A few people, widely scattered, were enjoying the day. The beach clubs were shuttered, and people were doing cleanup and repairs, getting ready for the winter. One lone fisherman stood out on the rocks. 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.
At the tip of one jetty, someone had placed a large American flag, which was tattered by the wind. If I knew how to write music, I would have composed an anthem from that image.
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 soaring joy and peace? It is the timelessness of the beach, the endless rhythms of the tides and the rising sun that remind us how beautiful and big this earth is and how relatively small our concerns are. And I suggest going alone unless you have a very quiet friend; any conversation would have been a distraction from the moment.
Man, we are so lucky to live near the beaches that curl around Long Island like strands of pearls. And this is the best season to get out there. If you’re reading this on Long Island, there’s a beach not too far away.
Recipe for inner peace: Head to the shore. Assemble ingredients. Mix well. Simmer. Enjoy.
Copyright © 2016 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.