On a Beach Walk: #59 (Sunsets)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Although the sun is high as I walk toward the west, the sun will set in a few hours.

Personally, I favor sunrises over sunsets – an event that only we early birds see. Whereas the sunrise appears as the faint music we hear arising from the quiet that continues crescendoing until its midday peak, the sunset is the corresponding decrescendo that fades away into the silence of the night.

Sunrise is a time when we patiently watch the sun without squinting – without worry of harm – a time when we are taken by its peacefulness and feeling of comfort.

However, now I wonder: Will today’s sunset be brilliant? Time will tell, so now I think of the time of day that captures many hearts – sunsets.

Sunset is a time when blues, pinks, yellows, and oranges paint a beautiful picture that is also unique. A time when colors depend on the presence of particles, water droplets, and just enough clouds in the sky to display the day’s final brilliance.

Sunset is a time when the shadows are long and point to the east – but they will soon disappear into the dark – very soon.

Sunset is a combination of fascination and melancholy that says goodbye to the day, then hello to a new evening.

Sunsets mark the end of the day and the beginning of a time to rest. But for the night owls, the day is young as they will embrace the dark.

Sunsets over the water our sensual as we watch the lowering sun softly and slowly kiss the sea. The sun appears as a candle drip that disappears while leaving a brilliant light in the west while darkness is engulfing the sky from the east.

Sunsets symbolize the end of one’s life. Starting at the birth of sunrise, our life is the sun’s arc across the sky. A life full of ups and downs – happiness and sadness – successes and failures – a journey when we interacting with many – even influencing some. As our sun disappears, our memories live on in those who remain – yet in time, most of us will be forgotten – simply fading away as the sun that never rises again.

The sun is gone, but the bright sky of dusk remains as a distant bonfire celebrating the passing day that is now a memory.

While the sunset is full of wonder, mystery, and symbolism, I will watch today’s sunset with a renewed sense of its meaning – all because I like walking the beach for it is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

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On a Beach Walk: #58 (Quiet)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Today I think about quiet – that calming word signifying no sound. Quiet – a time and place that questionably exists. Quiet – when there seems to be little noise, action, or activity – a time of still – an important personal time – They are all quiet.

The sea’s roar is not quiet – yet it can be the white noise for solitude. The sea is never quiet –  never still – but it can be a quiet for calming the mind. The wind whistling by my ears and the waves clapping as they wash ashore – yet, I can hear the popping of small bubbles on my feet, Yes –  walking on the beach can be a place of quiet for listening to nature and for quieting the mind.

Our mind is seemingly never quiet. It may be removed from one’s regular routine, but thoughts continuously race – and frequently bouncing between subjects, which is far from quiet. Sometimes when I walk the beach, my mind is like the perpetual activity of the sea.

Quiet is like an open meadow or standing on a mountain top overlooking serenity – but it is not void of sound – yet the mind may slow down to enjoy the relative quiet of the moment.

Life today is not only like a perpetual motion machine, it seems to be going faster and faster – yet quiet is an important mental health club – a time, a place where one can enjoy the spirit of reflection, imagination, or just rest.

Quiet is a reason some meditate or practice yoga. Others find quiet while jogging or riding a bicycle. Others find it in music, reading, or sitting by a crackling fire.

Quiet is being on the road that goes nowhere – a time away from the noise of life.

The roar of the waves can resemble societal noise. From the rambling anger and tremors of political pundits trading political soundbites over seeking meaningful solutions to real problems to the mountains that are really mole hills, they are far from quiet.

The news focuses on negative events of the day is far from quiet – therefore, mirroring the sounds of busy traffic.

The roaring waves resemble the roundtable discussion where being heard is more important than listening. It is in quiet that we learn to listen to ourselves and ponder what others have said.

The roar of the waves is the metaphor for now. Think of the immediacy of voice mail, call waiting, call forwarding, texting, email, and other modern technologies. It is on of these beach walks that I typically go without my phone – a respite from the immediacy of today’s world.

The sounds of the beach serve as a white noise. While my walk is absent of crowds, the active water delivers an inner stillness to the mind and soul – a time when the mind can both relax and focus – yes – a time of quiet. A time of solitude. A time of resting the mind. Even a time for focusing the mind.

Quiet is a time or a place where one finds peace and tranquility. Away from daylight’s activity, the quiet of night provides twinkling moments of reverence under the sparkles of the stars and the glistening moon.

Quiet is a place for the still without noise or voices – yet also the muted, the faint, indistinct, the inaudible, or the whispered.

While cruising in Alaska, I remember with its night still being like dusk, seeing the outlines of the mountains that were dark shadows with only a very rare sighting of an electric light. That’s also quiet.

I also recall one morning when cruising the Danube. All alone on the top deck, I could hear the splashes of water as the ship moved as well as the constant breeze – yet it was quiet enough to hear the morning birds in the distance. That’s also quiet.

I enjoy walking into a church where I am alone – that quiet sense of awe and wonder. Libraries are another place of reverence with a hush driven by the power of the knowledge found in the printed words that are bounded by covers.

Quiet – hush, still, faint, peace, tranquility, reverence, pleasant, soothing, restful – Not only are all quiet, quiet is a reason I like walking the beach. After all, walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On a Beach Walk: #57 (Wind)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Wind is one of our earthly constants. Although it may only be slight at our planet’s surface, winds are constant throughout the atmosphere.

Today the wind is strong and gusty – not a whispery breeze. Today the wind provides a strong headwind as I walk.

Today the wind roars as it passes my ears. Today is more of a slap than a feathery touch – but tomorrow may be different.

Today’s wind causes me to think about other terms associated with wind – gales, gusts, squalls, storms, cyclones, hurricanes, typhons, tornadoes, vortices, and more. Other terms describing wind come to mind as sea breezes, mountain breezes, desert winds, easterlies, westerlies, prevailing, polar, topical, headwinds, tailwinds, crosswinds, and there are more.

The wind is as moody and fickle as people. Winds change throughout the day and from day to day. The winds of yesterday, today, and tomorrow are all different – yet the wind always speaks to us in the form of spirits, messages, metaphors, and similes. But do we listen? Does anyone even know the language it speaks? Maybe the wind just stimulates our own private thoughts.

The wind is mysterious. We don’t see it, but notice its effects. We can’t hold it, but feel it on our body.

Like us, the wind can be conflicting and complex in its messaging. Like the wind, change is constant in life – and an absolute certainty – especially as technology seems to be moving us to change faster and faster. To some, change is an uncontrollable feeling of a piece of paper being tossed around by the wind.

I watch an approaching helicopter fly into the stiff wind. It flies straight, but the pilot positions the aircraft at an angle for reasons I do not know – but it must be because of the wind. That stiff wind is also the resistance that comes with change – that resistance for maintaining the comfort of the status quo.

Whereas the wind provides resistance, it can also be directive. Like moving with ease when implementing an idea. Who doesn’t like the wind at their back? That wind also allows us to float with ease – but to some, it can be like riding a wild bull.

From causing leaves to rustle, flags to flutter and refreshing our skin, the wind is poetic – it’s moving – it provides imagery to us all. The wind can be soft or rough – fierce or gentle – hot or cold – damaging or refreshing while delivering a variety of messages. Yet, the wind is free – free to do as it wants – even imposing its will.

Wind – that natural flow of atmospheric gases along the Earth’s surface – simply, the movement of air.

Wind – that force moving sand along the beach, changing the landscape, or eroding stone.

Other planets have winds, but solar winds are not the movement of gases.

Wind – a key component of song and movie titles as Gone with the Wind, Inherit the Wind, Blowin’ in the Wind, Candle in the Wind, Ride Like the Wind, They Call the Wind Mariah, Colors of the Wind, and many more.

Wind – a necessity for recreation as moving sailboats, flying kites, windsurfing, hand gliding, paragliding, and more.

Although the wind can be many things, the wind on the beach can provide a freshness that only the winds of the sea provide. The wind can be one of the reasons why walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On a Beach Walk: No. 56 (Wisdom)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Wisdom conjures many thoughts. What is wisdom? What does it mean to be wise? How do we become wise or achieve wisdom? How do we share wisdom? Does wisdom prevents us from seeing what needs to be seen? But it’s hard to imagine wisdom getting in the way. Regardless of the answers, there is no doubt that wisdom does not mean one as all the answers.

I think about how a baby transitions into a toddler.  The time from squirming to rolling over to  crawling to walking to running with accidents along the way. Isn’t wisdom similar? Doesn’t wisdom allow us to get our feet below us over time?

Looking at the transitions we go through in life – from the confined childhood to the pains of adolescence to the growth in adulthood to the resignation as we age. Think of all the wisdom gained during life. The mistakes that become experiences allowing us to be smarter today than yesterday as we turn the pages of life.

Gaining wisdom requires an awareness of the here and now that allows us to experience life and gain wisdom. But each of us do it differently because life affects us differently. Afterall, we range from the hard headed to the heavy hearted.

Every person is a collection of stories – some positive, others negative – a collection that we pass along through conversations at work, among friends, and within the family. A few people pass along their experiences through biographies. Others do so through a fictional book based on personal experiences or someone else’s life.

Experience is a history one shares with others – a history involving wisdom. However, humanity has a way of repeating the mistakes of others by proclaiming, “this is different.”

Experience allows us to deal with the unknown corner – to discover what’s around the corner or to avoid it – now that’s using wisdom!

Life has a way of slapping down past experiences with hopes of shedding a new light – a new way. After 12 years of teaching I discovered I had done a great job of doing it wrong. That internalization allowed me to step into a new frontier with confidence and gather new wisdom. At least I saw the light that the majority of my colleagues did not see – or chose to ignore it.

Wisdom – that process of thinking about our experiences, knowledge, understanding, and sensibility to make a choice.

Wisdom – the criss-crossing of interacting brain cells one uses for the betterment of both self and the many.

While much wisdom may comfort some, can wisdom get in the way? Can wisdom prevent us from seeing the reality or the vision? Experience and wisdom can block a fresh view – so we need someone to look at the situation through a different lens; a move that could move us to a different paradigm.

I look at the sea and wonder how many stories it holds. Then again, wisdom tells me that I’m thinking metaphorically.

Wisdom – something that comes from discernment while promenading the sand; after all, I like walking the beach for it is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On a Beach Walk: #55 (Fog)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

The morning is very foggy. As I walk, I feel an occasional mist. I see a wetness appearing on my glasses. Water collects and clings on my arms as a morning dew does on grass – but not as much as I recall from a prior year here on the coast.

The sand is smooth – unbothered by the extra low clouds. Besides, low tide was a short time ago. In many ways, it’s a good day for walking.

The thick fog seems to be keeping the birds grounded. The pelicans aren’t gliding by. The seagulls are absent – not even standing around on the beach. A sandpiper stands on one leg ahead – and hops away like a pogo stick as I approach.

The water feels good as it laps ashore and strokes my feet. Turning to look back, I notice that the buildings are difficult to see. Only their outlines faintly show, but I’m unable to count the floors. I wonder about spotting my turnaround point and my building when I return.

Thick fog is a metaphor for the unknown of what lies ahead. I imagine the Old World explorers making a journey across the ocean to an unknown land. The same feeling could be applied to the early astronauts or those trips to the Moon.

Fog is also a metaphor for a sense of my own mortality for I do not know what is in my future. Then again, none of us know what awaits un in the days ahead.

I forge ahead with my head more down than up. For whatever reason, my head rises and I notice my turning point. Somehow, the building is easy to see. Looking up I notice the sun appearing more like a moon behind a sheet of wax paper. Maybe the fog is about to clear. Maybe – or maybe not.

I change directions and soon feel a light glow from the sun warming the back of my neck – but as I look ahead – the thick fog remains – the feeling of mystery continues.

As my feet continue walking along the sand and occasionally in the water, the presence of birds remains minimal.

The location of our residence is unclear.

Fog is the gray between certainty and uncertainty. The unclear area between reality and the unreal. I’m on a moving line of the present that stands between the past and the future. Yes, the fog – a symbol of unclear thoughts and confusion – even frustration for some – but on this day, not me. I confidently trek ahead.

Later, with my back to the water, I stand looking at each faint outline of the buildings through the dense low clouds. A passer by asks if I’m trying to find my building, but I confidently define my location … then we laugh.

Because I’m near to my ending point, I return to the water’s edge for the remaining stroll. After all, walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On a Beach Walk: No. 54 (Soundscapes)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

How many layers of sounds do I hear as I walk? What if I could magically turn off all the sounds here; then bring them back one by one? In what order would they appear?

From the depth of silence, I would first return the sounds of the waves because they are the beach’s heartbeat. Ever present – always steady – sometimes louder – but the sounds of the sea serves as the conductor of the steady symphony I experience as I walk in this place.

As I stand facing the water and feeling the laps gently caressing my feet, I can hear the tiny bubbles of foam. That air trapped in the water being released into the atmosphere. Maybe that’s my transition sound.

Then comes the wind. The wind can greatly vary in its presence through direction and speed. The wind can pass my ears as a roar of a passing train. It can also be a soft whistle – or even the calming sound and feel of a gentle touch. But wait – the same wind sounds different depending on the direction as I walk.

The next layer would be the birds. As a whole, they are not a noisy lot. The seagulls squawk, but not constantly. The pelicans are stealth as they effortless soar just above the water’s surface. I occasionally hear the tweet of the sanderlings as they fly by.

I don’t hear insects or the sand crabs but it does not mean they don’t create sound. Nor do I hear human traffic or construction – but that may be a different soundscape.

I could add the sound of my feet. That steady bass drum that only I hear as I walk – or the splashing with each step as I walk through the passing water.

People would be the next sound. This time of year numbers are few. Humanity’s auditory presence is not constant – actually infrequent would be more accurate. The sounds in peak season would be different with the kids romping, teens playing beach volleyball, and radios blaring.

A soundscape at home in Ohio would be different than here. Would it be rural or urban? In a meadow or the woods? By day or at night?

Maybe I would start with rustling leaves; then add the gentle waters of a babbling stream. Insects would then buzz followed by birds chirping. Nightfall would remove the buzzing insects and chirping birds of the day, but replaced by the crickets, followed by the chorus of croaking frogs, then the occasional screeches of owls and the howling of mammals.

No matter where nature’s symphony plays, what if one of the sounds were eliminated. A concert with missing instruments. A piano concerto with missing keys.

I think about the lyrics in a Nat King Cole song – Mother Nature and Father time.

Every robin is my brother
They sing their songs to me
The tiny black-eyed daisies
The mighty red wood tree
There all my family

Then why do I feel so lonely
Like a king on an empty throne
There’s one thing that’s missing only
A true love to call my own

Won’t you listen mother nature
And listen father time
Please help me to find someone
To fill these arms of mine
Mother nature and father time

I wonder how many pictures can a soundscape paint? Thoughts of soundscapes are more complex than I imagined – but thinking about soundscapes is a good reason why walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On a Beach Walk: No. 53 (Balance)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

The waves of the sea act on the bob linked to a line connected to the fisherman’s pole. While noticing the up and down action caused by the waves crests and troughs, I think of the midline line between these two extremes – that point of relative equality or balance.

The continual up and down action of the seas brings seasickness to some of us. Not a pleasant feeling for those of us haunted by that natural action of the sea.

Compared to its sensory counterparts, balance seems to be a lost sense. That sense of stability primarily based on the three semicircular canals in the inner ear that are at right angles to each other. But each of us react differently to amusement park rides that spin, jerk, or go fast over the changing terrain of railed hills.

We forget or do not realize the roles that eyes and stomach provide in our balance – especially as we carefully watch the single railroad track as we walk with our arms outstretched as a balancing aid. As our bodies lean right, the brain quickly reacts to pull us left – but hopefully not too far because we want to remain on the rail.

The brain takes all the information it receives about position and reacts by sending messages to muscles to keep us in balance – the position of the ankles, knees, elbows, shoulders, and head relative to space. Our body’s awareness to relative position and spaces allows me to walk calmly and steadily on the beach that is noticeably slanted by the water – but not as much as other days – so it seems relatively flat.

Balance has a rhythm – like that peaceful state while riding a bicycle with confidence.

I think about the various balances in sciences – these balanced forces keeping an object at rest or those keeping the object moving in a straight line and constant speed. Those balances between different populations in a food chain that are not equal in number, but balanced relative to each other. The balanced equations of a chemical reaction showing the same number of atoms entering and exiting the reaction.

The balance sheet of life made of our credits and debits for each of us to work through – and yes – some of those encounters are stressful enough to upset life’s balance. Let us not forget the difficult balance in life as dealing with forgiveness and tolerance.

The complexity of life requires us to find a manageable balance between work, love, and play. Work can consume us as we walk the fine line differentiating living to work and working to live. To some, it’s the love for what they do that drives the imbalance with play and love – for others, it’s the pressure to achieve.

Balance is a sense – an important sense – but balance has many applications to life. On this day I find life is good and not much stress because walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.