The Beach in Winter...
I love the beach anytime, but Winter might be my favorite. When all its usual purpose is diminished and you are left only with the starkness of its beauty. Marooned on its shores because the water is too cold for anyone with any sense.
Walking the beach in Winter, all bundled up, watching my dog brave the frigid waters is one of my favorite things to do. She takes off and runs through the water as if there is no difference in temperature from Summer. I beg to differ.
Gone are all the Summer worshippers. They will be back at the next hint of warmth, leaving us Winter combers to enjoy the beauty in solitary style. I thank them for it every single time.
There is something inherently lonely about walking the beach alone in the cold. It is an iconic image really. But also one of beauty and grace. Something so romantic about being isolated and being fortunate enough to wander the miles unencumbered by the presence of others, no happy families, no screaming kids, no largess of dogs. Just you and the surf and sand, and perhaps your dog.
Life gets rearranged for me in times like this. I find purpose and meaning in my life in ways that I just cannot during the warmth of Summer. There is something sadly healing about walking the beach solo...and so I do it as often as I possibly can.
Perhaps it underscores how I feel so often in life. Mostly surrounded by people, crowded out by them and all their neediness. But then somehow surfacing from life’s insanity and arriving on a rocky shore, solitary in form, destined to be solo in order to better appreciate the call and rhythm of nature’s call.
I find I need it. I crave it. This whole being alone (or nearly alone) on the beach, in the forest, in the desert. Wherever nature abounds and people do not. I will tell you my trip to Joshua Tree where I only saw a handful of people was made more special and amazing due to the lack of people.
I find that I need less and less people the more time passes. I always have room for new people to enter my life, but there has been a great shrinking of my need to be surrounded all the time by people in general. Moving me towards a day in the not so distant future where I will live alone and walk the world in some sort of solemn grace with my thoughts, feelings and likely a dog.
The beach in Winter is stripped bare of all of Summer’s fanfare. And there is something very calming and peaceful about that to me. I like the coldness. I like the starkness of the weather and the absence of humanity. It is by the lack of these things permitting me to remove some barriers I erect between you and me, and endeavor to purify the places in myself that are tarnished, and in need of repair...and it is only through this absence at the water’s edge that I find the salvation I am looking for.
Perhaps one day, I can walk this path partnered and get the same relief. Or perhaps the beach in Winter will always just be a place where I ponder life and all its meaning, a permanent escape from humanity for me. And the addition or presence of someone else, will always and forever mean that I am not as alone as I feel, but with the addition of others, so too comes my neurosis, my fear and my maladaptive behaviors. Which when walked out alone on a Winter’s Day seems far less serious than when I am confronted with myself in the presence of others. My collar upturned to the icy wind, my back literally turned away from all I fear, misunderstand, misinterpret and turned toward all the beauty and dignity that awaits me on the frigid sand and violent surf.