I spend too much time on electronic devices. From the moment I get that first whiff of seawater, however, the phone is as far from my mouth as my parking space. I mean, I’m here for serious business, and I’m not going to be interrupted by anything so trivial as work.
If you are racing down the beach like you’re in the Boston Marathon, headset on, talking about your next big deal, you are not getting the full experience. The sounds of breaking waves, seabirds arguing over who caught the biggest sardine and the treasures the ocean offers to the land await those attentive to their surroundings.
Now, I realize not everyone has my flexible hours or the freedom to skip down the beach like Mary Poppins. To those who have no choice but to be harnessed to the electronic leash, my apologies. To you others, not sorry.
If I go slow enough, I will inevitably find a memento of my beach walk. Today it was a rock with the face of a space alien. Other days it may be heart rocks, colored glass, shells, change or even the rare piece of jewelry.
I have been on the lookout for a diamond ring ever since a friend told me of her girlfriend who, angry with her fiancé, threw her $20,000 ring onto the rocks. (The irony of the words “on the rocks” just hit me.) I have searched for that ring for 20 years, wondering at the inner conflict I would face if I ever found it.
Of course, my greedy side would be tempted to pawn it, while my better self would yell at me to do the right thing and advertise the find. I’m partially grateful that I never had to face that dilemma.
It’s been a while since a series of big north swells took the beach down to bedrock. Surfers went crazy with copper fever, hunting in the cracks of the reef for anything shiny. I usually came away empty-handed from such excursions, but once told a kid I was watching to turn over a rock. Under it was a pristine 1900 silver dollar.
Later I was less lucky and found a phosphorous bomb that had apparently washed off a Navy ship. I turned the bomb over to a panic-stricken secretary at the local sheriff’s station.
Seeing the dismay at my transporting such a dangerous object, I left the portable rocket launcher bobbing where I found it, in the surf, for fear I would be unable to explain it when the FBI came calling.
Perhaps my greatest find was a Riffe Speargun. I was tromping through the rotting beach kelp when I stooped to pick up a rotting rubber band. (My personal rule is to never walk over any inorganic matter small enough to carry to the trash.)
Anyway, when I grabbed the band, I found it attached to a beautiful teak speargun that has since been used against fish visiting the shallows when I am.
Most often I drive home empty-handed from my day trips. Empty-handed, but not empty-headed. I bring home a rich sunset, a conversation with an old friend or the simple pleasure of being bathed in the negative ions that wash the soul and lift the spirit.
Our world moves too fast for one such as me. So, instead of racing forward to catch it, I slow down and let it catch me. You can find me in the slow lane, walking the sand free from electronic entanglements.
Please join me. Look down, look up, look out and listen for an invitation into a world that the swift of foot run right past.