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at the beach

Rilke’s advice just came back to me.  To paraphrase...

“Write because you can’t not.  Otherwise don’t.” (srsly - rough translation - lit majors please don't take offense)

I realize that I usually approach writing as a should, not a must.  And that’s why it’s a struggle.

I ask myself a few questions... the same questions I ask those who come to me for STORY guidance each month: Who am i writing to?  Why am i writing at all?  Who does it serve?  How does it align with my highest purpose...

OK. I know I want to connect... to elevate the conversation from ME to WE... everything in service of US... of SOUL. It's then that the writing starts to flow.... and I realize this post isn't a recap or a reflection of STORY. It's my own story, my own experience... of what's happening now...

Safeway out here by the beach smells like the supermarkets of my youth.  Upgrade: they sell Pinot Grigio in a can.  A hulking man with a bandaged head and too big shoes feeds pigeons and gulls in the parking lot.  I leave with what I came for, get into the car, close the door, and as I pull away I realize I’m making very loud, mournful, disturbing sounds.  The song I wail seems to be coming from somewhere and someone else.  Maybe I’m channeling the people who walked this land before the Spanish and smallpox and greed.  Or maybe I’m making the sound my body was designed to make when my soul feels this deeply...

Then I’m sitting on a beach.  The sun isn’t setting, but it’s thinking about it.  The gulls have congregated to my right, on what feels like a suggestion of a little sand knoll, or maybe it’s them being there that makes me think the ground is elevated.  Perception is like that sometimes.  As I looked away to write this, then look back, I see they’ve taken flight, and I realize the slope wasn’t as great as I had thought.  Indeed, their aliveness created the illusion.  Aliveness is like that.  It elevates.

Families are packing up for the day and walking back to their cars.  Two surfers carry their boards back, tucked under their arms.  I imagine all the beaches, across the world, where similar duos peel out of their wetsuits next to a flatbed or an open door.  I see this phenomenon every time I pass a beach in this area. I never knew it as commonplace until California.  Everything is commonplace somewhere.  Proximity and frequency.

A sea plane glides into view and slowly skims the skyline.

A man and his son walk toward the water.  They start to run.  Their arms are swinging in effort, in unison.  I’m overcome with a deep sense of sadness and longing and regret.  

All of a sudden, the gulls are back.

I'm overcome with gratitude. I can sit here, in the sand, at the end of the day, and capture these moments with words. And you and I, we are connected, here in this post, able to share all of it.

Thanks for reading, for listening in a way that I feel (virtually) seen... this is exactly why STORY exists. Come experience stuff like this on Oct 24th.


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