Walking the Winter Shore.
by Eric Alan
February 11, 2018 - 3:00pm

There’s magic on the edge of the continent, at the border of sand and sea. In one direction stretches the entirety of the land I call home. In the other, a humbling liquid reminder of how small that land is, compared to even one ocean on a planet The opacity of the water’s surface from wave to horizon cannot hide the knowledge that underneath that surface is an alien world of mystery, complexity and beauty. 

It’s not that I’m not welcome in that liquid world. It’s more that it’s so completely beyond me that to the denizens of the depths, I’m irrelevant. I may as well not even exist, spent as all my days are, beyond the expansive pool of their sea. That’s humbling, and in humility is freedom. In humility is magic.

Still, that’s not the main magic I feel in a walk along the shore this time. There’s something deeply cleansing in the salt sea air, as it blows off the waves with tireless persistence. The worries which have accumulated within me are emptied by it. It’s as if my mind had become a wastebasket filled with the detritus of extraneous thoughts and feelings. The sound of the surf, equally persistent, masks all noise from the chattering human realm. My feet fall in rhythm to the wordless beat of the breakers. Simply following the ever-shifting tideline, I need no other plan or path. I feel temporarily impervious to the ravages of salt and water, sand and worry. I’m grateful that human souls do not rust.

The ocean’s edge is a fierce place, as most pristine places are. The winter shore doesn't spare the unprepared; it isn’t concerned about any who underestimate its powerful dangers.

The fierceness of the ocean’s edge is most evident in the winters, when storms that have built for thousands of miles arrive without compassion at the shore. They’re majestic in their bluster, stirring muscular fists of waves that pummel the rocky shore with a fighter’s honed rage. The storms inspire awe, if watched from a safe distance. 

A day of winter calm is illuminating in contrast. When there’s a break, a moment of respite between rains, the brief sunlit brilliance is all the more beautiful for its brevity. Visions shimmer: The way the sun glistens on the wet sand of a receding tide. The dance of the sandpipers as they race the wave edges for their meals. The footprints of dogs and owners come out to celebrate the day together. The way the spray lifts off the waves, stirring emotions as a bridal veil does. We’re married to this beautiful planet, for richer, for poorer, under blind gray skies or lucid sunsets. 

The contrast of seashore to my usual inland vistas is also illuminating, refreshing my vision as I completely lose myself in the magic of fresh beauty. At every moment I see something I’ve never quite seen before, and will never quite see again. That’s always true. But I’m more aware of it for this moment, this time. 

I would tell you of further thoughts about it, but I cease having any. I have only vision, feeling, a purity of experience, a true connection to the planet of our origin that transcends language. That is the real magic. In that experience, release. In that silence, wisdom. 

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