I couldn’t wait to get there. I got into my car and forgot something three separate times before I hit the road. It takes an hour and a half to get to the State Park beach that I go to, and I already had to leave after I finished with my Wednesday group I facilitate. I brought the bare essentials, but they were essential – Journal, colored pencils, camera, water, and blanket all packed in my backpack.
When I finally hit the road, my heart was beating fast in anticipation. I wanted to be there, now! I felt like a kid running in sprints then slowing myself down at my internal parental voice saying "slow down". I did take the time to calm myself, reminding myself that to really get what I need from a journey; I must be present throughout the trip. I settled into my drive, watching the scenery as I looked for cows to win “Cow, I win” for the day. I did. I let my thoughts flow in and out as I wondered what in me needed to come out this time around. I go to the beach to get grounded. I go to let go of residual energy of life and to embrace the energy of being there. I have not been to the beach since before the New Year. I had many things to let go of and many things I hoped to embrace.
Arriving I had the intention to let go of doubt, self-criticism, and that internal debate going on in my head these days – why can’t I just let life be as it is? I wanted to fill myself with courage, confidence, and I wanted the answers to feel like I mean something to something and most importantly to me.
The walk in is about a mile from the entrance to the dunes. It’s through hilly woods that isolate the soul from the day-to-day experience. It’s peaceful, quiet, with only wind and birds to greet the ears. And of course my internal dialogue. I choose the mile trail so that I can focus on my breathing, and try and control my brain that is ever tick tick ticking with a constant beat of conversation.
The moment before I hit the beach is always a reflective experience for me. I come out from the woods and am met with high dunes that block my view from the water and her overriding sounds, but the air smells wet and blue and open. I always pace myself so the moment when I hit the zenith of the hill, I can appreciate the paramount view of Lake Michigan. It always brings my ego self to my knees in awe. I am then greeted with the sound. Oh the sound! It’s a rhythm that fills every sense, so powerful it naturally changes the pace of my heart beat. The constant lapping of water from wave to shore stretches into infinity on either side of me. It instantly recalibrates my soul.
I spend time just staring at the water as I watch the calm waters lap up around my ankles. Its cold and I vary the position of my feet in and out of the water. I then move toward this dune of all dunes to climb to sit on the bluff and watch the sunset. It’s a difficult task, even at my healthiest days, but I find the ambition always leads to lessons of self I need to explore. This time, this lesson was a constant focus to just stop thinking already. Every inch forward was met with self-thought, self-introspection, self-doubt, and really nothing of self in the moment. I had barely made it to the first line of trees I needed to pull myself forward with and my mind was exhausted by the annoying internal sound. So, I decided it was simply time to stop. Stop moving, stop thinking, stop trying to find myself in this world and just be in it – etched, imperfect, and flawed – at least until I got up the hill. I could promise myself this.
Bluff copyright 2006
The rest of the trip upward was all about the body in the elements around me. Every touch of hand to tree or knee to sand was met with a monologue of silence. I never smelled with such intensity, touched with such texture, or listened with such intent.
At the top of the bluff where the dune meets the woods again, my mind wanted to start beating me up against the current of the water I heard. My body physically exhausted I decided I couldn’t let it anymore. It was time for me to move from mental introspection to physical contemplations. It was time to focus this heady head on something else.
I love the beach.