That’s the thing about beauty. You have to look for it. You have to want to find it. If you don’t, she will literally pass you by, and you wouldn’t know it, and you wouldn’t be the better for it. And in fact, missing it is missing a once in a lifetime chance at happiness for that moment. Is not life indeed just a massive collection of moments? What if you knew you could control what happens in most of those moments? To know that you had a hand in creating it? That’s powerful.
And so it was, that this particular day when I awoke, I was searching for a specific moment – a wonderfully sublime moment. I wasn’t in the best of moods and I hadn’t been feeling well all week, so every moment today leading up the special one I eventually found, I had to convince myself to go in search of it. To look for beauty. To look for the moment that would give today its meaning. It wasn’t easy.
I went for a physical this morning. I hadn’t done that in two years. I also hadn’t been feeling well, so I wanted to make sure I hadn’t come down with anything. Then I went to Target to buy “Million Dollar Arm”, the movie I went to see before my three-week magical trip to India earlier this year. I would watch that later tonight after the World Series game. It’s midday now; Taylor cannot come with me on this journey on this day at this time. The midday sun is bright and sweltering. And that would be too much for him. I would need to find this particular moment on my own.
And so I made my way from the 101 to CA-1/Shoreline Drive for the scenic and windy route to Stinson Beach. Normal speed limits are anywhere from 10 to 25 mph, driving any faster would make those hairpin turns dangerous to say the least. It’s stunningly beautiful which is good, cos two eyes on the road is extremely important. Sandwiching the road for the first half of the drive was tall, green, lush trees protecting me from the sun, until it opened up to the mighty and majestic Pacific Ocean on the left hand side. The entire drive was a teaser for what was in store before me.
And so I am now here. I love the sound of the ocean. I could get lost in my thoughts here, hearing her. The waves are coming in furiously, though from what I’m told nothing like how it is on its best day. It’s a lazy day today, with not too many people out. I like that. Solitude brings a man peace. Yet there are enough people and animals around to give myself a break from the ocean’s awesome power. I spot an Indian family that reminds of my time on her beaches. I see many older, heavily bearded men, veterans of the beach. The seagulls are fearless and sometimes I feel they will steal a frisbee from one of the players. It hasn’t happened yet, but I know it will. There are people surfing. There are people in the ocean, simply being. There are sunbathers. There are writers. There are photographers. There are sand castles. There’s even a tent.
I see a feather, a sign someone dear to me once said that someone dear to her was watching over her from heaven. I take that as a good sign. A really good one.
I decide to take my shoes off and go for a barefoot walk. The last time I decided to walk along the beach barefoot, I was in Goa after midnight with my closest friend on the other side of the world five months ago, on my way to a seat on the beach to watch the cricket match. Along the way, I cut my toe badly on a rock or a glass, not quite sure. With the sun behind me and no alcohol in me, I’m confident this walk will be slightly more peaceful.
The closer I get to the water, the more its cool beats the sun’s warmth; and by the time my feet hit the water, it’s cooler than cool. It’s ice cold. A mere ten feet away from me, a swarm of seagulls fight over a bag of Cheetos. I should tell them processed food is not good for you, but I’ve a feeling they won’t listen.
I keep walking.
I just found the most beautiful place, an alcove of giant rocks that looked like tiny dots when I started my walk. I would find out later these are called The Stinson Beach Boulders. A young man with a long, wiry, red beard stands atop one of the tallest of the monoliths, his face reminding me of a pirate captain that may have once sailed here. I see a porcelain couple skinny-dipping in the ocean, unaware or perhaps don’t care there are others on the beach. I hope they have sunscreen on. I lie against a rock, at least thirty feet tall, my feet confidently sunk into the wet, brown sand as the waves come crashing against me knee-high.
And then I found it. I found what I didn’t know I was looking for.
I kept walking towards it, to my left, for what looked like the eye of the storm. Where all the waves were focusing upon her incessant fury. I braced myself against the wall of a giant rock. And stood there. These waves were fifteen feet tall in the distance, at least. By the time they came to me, it was only chest high. That doesn’t seem like much. But I can’t swim. I am terrified of drowning. And yet, I love the water; and will every chance I get, try to be near it. In this case, I wanted to be in it. It was scary. It was downright exhilarating.
I stayed there for a while longer, letting the waves crash against me. With each successive pounding, I felt the stress wash away. By the time I decided to leave, I felt as light as a feather.
It was time to go back.
I had walked the entire length of the beach and back. I didn’t know what I was preparing for this morning. But this was the moment. This was today’s moment that would make today a great day. While I had no expectations, had I one, this moment would have exceeded it.
I write this as the ocean’s waves crash against my ears in Dolby Digital movie surround sound, walking back to the park where I parked my car.
I drive away as Springsteen’s “Thunder Road” plays.
I see seagulls.
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