On a Beach Walk: #61 (Beauty)

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

It is beautiful here – so today I wonder about beauty. What is beauty? Why is it different for everyone? Why is beauty in the eyes of the beholder?

We apply beauty to people, places, and things as events, music, arts, architecture, and more. The bottom line: Beauty is a state of pleasure; a specialized level of satisfaction.

For me, I think the most beautiful places I’ve seen. Nā Pali coast on Hawaii’s island of Kauai being the most beautiful uninhabitable place. But where people live, Italy’s Amalfi Coast grabs me with an irresistible force. Through my heritage, the valley setting of Bagni di Lucca on the Serchio River in northern Tuscany touches my heart.

The beauty of events etch a memory forever. Watching a sunset behind the Pacific from a plateau above the sea on Kauai was spectacular. Approaching Venice on a cruise ship, then going through a canal to dock streetside is a memory stuck in my brain. The colors of the sunrise I see here on this coast are inspiring. The tear that rolled down my check when I saw my wife walk down the aisle at our wedding.

Beauty is the peace delivered by a different messenger to different people – maybe a baby’s smile, a gentle touch, the togetherness of family, a ray of sunshine, or even a personal walk on a beach.

Nature’s beauty shows through its seemingly infinite design. Snow-capped mountains, sandy beaches, brilliant flowers, colorful fish, a herd of wild animals on a distant slope of grass – let alone the mathematical brilliance of a Fibonacci pattern or the brilliant geometrical designs seen through electron micrographs or even a spider’s web – or how common life processes are accomplished by a range of organisms from a single cell to plants to the largest animal.

The colors displayed by the Grand Canyon’s rock layers is one thing – but how the sun’s angle changes them throughout the day is inspiringly beautiful.

Although beauty can vary across time and cultures, through nature and behaviors, beauty is also timeless. The beauty of a person’s actions as sincerity, goodness, charitableness, helpfulness, and kindness are just that – timeless and not limited by cultural boundaries – as are the empathetic heart and listening ear.

Beauty is that combination of shape, color, and pattern that we find in art. Certain pieces and styles move a person – they stir the soul – but to others, their teeth hurt because their tastes and preferences differ. They see beauty elsewhere.

We can hear beauty. From the babbling stream, to the roaring water of a grand waterfall, to the calming waters of a walk on the beach, or a walk in a serene meadow. The physical beauty and natural sounds can capture the soul.

We hear the beauty of words. Some inspire, while others honor. Some words transform us, while others deliver peace and comfort through the right place at the right time.

The beauty of music can transport us to another place. Rachmaninoff delivers love while  Copeland brings pride through instrumental compositions. Many others do it through their voice that sings the beauty of the lyricist’s phrases.

I look across humanity to see many physical beauties: the glow of Nordic beauty – the exoticness of Middle Eastern beauty – the sensuality of Mediterranean beauty – the kindness in Oriental beauty – the steely and mysterious nature of Eastern European beauty – the regal confidence of African beauty – the uniqueness of Indian beauty that perhaps comes from cultural blending through genetics over many years.

Beauty is something we can see in cultures – through dress, customs, language, and actions. Each of our cultures do something for ourselves, while other cultures may be different, one can find beauty there.

Beauty is not limited to the eyes and ears. Aromas from the kitchen ignite a bountiful of beautiful thoughts and memories. We notice the beauty when our fingers pass over the smooth surface of a fine sculpture or the soft skin of our lover.

Let us not forget the beauty beach shells provide as I walk. From the physical designs to the combination of colors – from the small to the large – the smooth to the ridged. There is beauty in those shells for those taking time to look.

Yes, each of us determine beauty through our own lens. More importantly, life is full of beauty for those who not only take time to look and listen – but also to engage all the senses.

This beach is a beautiful place providing a collection of various beauties. Thinking about beauty is a reason I like walking the beach, which is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On a Beach Walk: #60 (Havens)

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

My time on the Alabama coast is not only time away from the multiple blasts of winter, it’s also my time away from the regular routines of daily life at home. A respite from the normal. A time as my alter ego. Sort of a haven – so I wonder about havens.

I grew up near a New Haven, visited another to see Yale University. Even spent a series of days in Grand Haven. The latter that seems to best resemble the meaning of today’s keyword.

Haven – a place of safety – a refuge – a retreat, shelter, or sanctuary – a harbor, oasis, or sanctum.

To some, a library is a haven. Those repositories of information that can bring alive the past or fantasies. The place where one can grow in knowledge. The community resource space that is for everybody. Thinking of all the information available in a college library is a profound thought on its own. Maybe that’s why I stand in awe of the information while within a college library.

To others, home is their haven. A place where they feel the love and safety of family. Home – the place possibly symbolizing the most memories of life. Both leaving home and coming home stir emotions. Home is definitely a haven – but not for everyone.

Havens can be a place to remove oneself from the regular world – a quiet space as a park, a church, a meadow, a library, a beach, or even a room within one’s home. It can be sitting on the ground, leaning against a tree, relaxing on a deck, or reading in your favorite chair.

Havens are a place one relieves stress by seeking tones of harmony and peace. That place away from the negative energies of the world. That place of no anger, no pain, no discord, and no irritation. Havens are a place of content.

Havens are a chance to close one’s eyes to the world, but not sleep. A chance to enjoy the solitude – to decompress – to reflect – to wrap themselves in thoughts of comfort.

Havens can involve an action – reading, writing, listening to music, creating a craft, gardening, meditating, practicing yoga, sitting, sipping tea, and yes – even walking the beach. Some find their haven when running or during other forms of exercise – so havens are personal.

My winter time at the beach is one of my personal havens. I spend much of my time walking and thinking, listening to podcasts, and writing. I see others who find a haven in many hours of fishing. Some sit to talk with others. Some just sit in the chair feeling the warm breezes that deliver comfort to their soul as time passes while seeming to stand still. They may daydream or even fall asleep.

Listening to the sounds of nature is a haven – the sounds of natural silence that are void of the hustle and bustle of daily life. No passing cars or honking horns. Just the sounds of the surf to soothe the soul.

I walk because I get restless sitting. Reading in the bright of day is not easy for me.

I want to use the salty air, the tides, the sun, the clouds, the breezes, the sand, the sounds, and the water to serve as the grains falling in the hourglass of time. This is one of my havens – and walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

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.

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. 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.

On a Beach Walk: No. 52 (Sight)

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

I think of our eyes – those two moveable spheres on the front of our face looking straight head while other organisms have them on top of their head.

I think about the importance of the eyes in balance – the way we keep our eyes on the single rail as we attempt a balanced walk on a railroad track.

I think of the eyes and the sense of sight that they initiate. That upside down, mirror-reversed image that red, green, and blue sensors on the retina of each eye detect – and these messages are the ones that our brain interprets and puts it together as the one image of what we see.

I think of sight as the one sense most of us fear losing. Some of us have lost the sight that others never had while others have experienced threats their eyesight. Ever wonder how people cope with losing vision after they had it?

Ever wonder what those with a visual abnormality see? The colorblind, whether red-green, blue-yellow, or even the monochromatic? Or the limited views caused by glaucoma or cataracts? It’s hard to imagine visual problems for those eyes aren’t mine.

Color is all around us. All the color we see is based on light signals received by those three sensors – yet we see so many colors. Somehow, a person with monochrome vision can be a painter of vibrant color.

Eyesight – that mechanism that puts a world in front of us to see – to interact with, to note danger, and more. But those are only true if we take the time to look – to notice the world and its detail found directly in front of us. Otherwise, we won’t notice what our eyes see. Then again, our biases, perceptions, and distractions influence our interpretation of the visual scene.

Whereas the eyes gather light’s input of our world, our vision is a gift from our mind that is a higher level and purpose of vision. Perhaps this is what Helen Keller meant when saying, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”

The eyes – those two small spheres that show emotion, interest, confusion, confidence, insecurity, and more. The locking of eyes can be a special moment – that is transcending what one sees to another level of emotion.

No matter where we are, our lives are surrounded of things to see, but do we take time to notice what is around us – even directly in front of us. After all, awareness is a conscious activity. But for everything there is to see, we cannot see without light.

There is much to see when I walk the beach, and my observations are in many beach walks – but this remains unchanged – I like walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.