Beach Messages

This morning on the beach I noticed an unusual piece of junk.

The sea had given back this rusted, antique Remington typewriter.

Oh, the curiosities that came to mind!

Maybe a writer had tossed it overboard in a moment of frustration.

Maybe a storm swept it in from a foreign land.

Maybe it was Hemingway’s.

The typewriter was in recognizable but poor condition.

There were only a few keys left, but by some mysterious coincidence, the two initials that held the most significance to me. What are the odds!

I plucked them off and put them in my pocket.

It seemed to be a message from the universe: keep on writing. Or keep on loving. Or both.

I promise I will.

PS – If your name is Owen or Oprah, there is still the ‘O’ key left.

Kind encounters.

Something really lovely and random happened today.

It was along this stretch of the beach.

BeachI was doing my usual beachcombing, looking gently for bits of seaglass and heart-shaped rocks. I was aware of other people on the beach, passing by from time to time, but it seemed we were each in our own space of contemplation.

In a departure from my usual habits, I picked up a small black pebble with a lime green stripe. As I admired it in my palm, a thought went through my mind: Perhaps I will start to collect rocks with stripes.

At that moment, I heard a voice behind me. I turned around and saw a young woman smiling brightly at me. She said with so much sincerity:

“I meant to say hi to you when I walked past. I don’t know why I didn’t. So, I turned around and came back. Hi.”

Is that not the loveliest thing a stranger could say (and do)?

We have all had the experience of walking past someone, for some reason holding our words inside. Wanting to be courteous or kind, but also not wanting to interfere or disturb. Feeling an instinctive desire to help, or open a door, or pick up a dropped item, but missing the immediate moment to assist. Ultimately, not acting on our impulse to connect with a stranger, regretting afterwards that something held us back.

This young lady recognized this and reclaimed the moment.

I smiled, and spontaneously extended my hand and said the one thing that came to me, in that moment. Before the moment got away.

“Here is a pebble with a green stripe to go with your sweater.”

 

Just between me and the beach.

I went doseasidewn to the seaside today to have a sit and think.

First I repatriated some rocks and shells back to the sea, and then I sat on a log and quietly watched the world go by.

After a while I focused my attention to the sand beneath my feet. I started poking through rocks to see what beach treasures I might find. On one side of my log I placed interesting pebbles to admire. To the other side I placed pieces of broken plastic and garbage.

I’ve noticed over the years an increasing amount of garbage washing up on our shores. On this particular beach, many pieces of waste are small, sharp edged bits of hard plastic. I often worry about the safety of children with their curious hands and feet, or of puppies and their paws. I also think about the general impression this sight may have on visitors to my hometown, when they come to enjoy the seaside and find the tides have left the shoreline littered. Never mind the party garbage brought in and left behind by nighttime revelers.

Suddenly, I remembered I had a plastic bag in my pocket leftover from repatriating the shells. I started to fill the bag with plastic bits and other garbage. I cleaned up the space around my log on the beach. Of course, it was not enough to make a huge difference, but I left the beach in better condition than when I found it.

This is something I used to do naturally as a child — pick up litter from the sidewalk or park whenever I played outside. But ocean waste is one of those gigantic, complex problems that feels beyond one’s control. And somewhere along the way, in my long life’s journey through different busy phases of adulthood, I personally stopped picking up street litter. Most times I would just feel sad or disappointed in other people for not taking strides to the garbage can, and passing their responsibility along to someone else.

What happened to the little girl who used to accept that extra responsibility?

Now I am not normally one for making new year’s resolutions, but today I decided that I will always pack an extra bag in my pocket, so that whenever I come down to the shore, I can remove some of these small hazards from the beach. And leave it just a little bit cleaner.

If reading this inspires you to take up a similar practice, that would be wonderful. Our efforts would be shared and doubled! But I am really not trying to start a movement with this post, or look for any ‘that a girl’ praise. I am simply remembering the child I once was, and aspiring to live up to her example.

This is a personal decision and agreement between me and the beach.