Sand, Snow, Sea and Shells

Winter brings seclusion to the beach.  After all, who’s really lingering on a beach in January anyway?  Well, I am when the opportunity presents itself.  I’m not a beach person in that I don’t see any point in lying on the sand while the sun cooks your skin.  And yet I’m a beach person in that I love to walk on the beach, especially near the surf, and especially when I may find solitude.  Since I’m not wealthy enough to own a private beach, my options for solitude are early in the morning and in the off-season.  A beach in the Northeast doesn’t get much more off-season than January.

January beach time brings together seclusion, sand, snow, sea and shells.  If that’s not an attractive alliteration I’m not sure what is.  I seek out solitude because I like to think, and I like to re-charge my batteries through nature and walking.  I welcome the occasional sniff from a dog running free with it’s human.  I take a picture that strikes my fancy.  Sometimes I pick up a shell or driftwood or sea glass.  I try to get my steps in for the day.  And I think.  Being alone with your thoughts seems to be less of a thing nowadays.  People escape into their devices, their TV shows, politics, celebrity gossip or sports.  Some escape into a bottle or religion or drugs or exercise programs.  I’m not interested in escape.  I’m interested in enjoying the ride while I’m on this earth.  Now.  Not deferred to some retirement or vacation in the future.

Tim Ferriss calls this living the lifestyle of the New Rich.  Time and mobility.  I’ve tried over the last decade to build my career around this NR lifestyle.  While I haven’t pulled off the rich part, I’ve generally lived in such a way that I’ve had the freedom to do what I want to do most of the time.  Generally that means being able to see my kids play sports or attending other milestones in their lives, but sometimes it means taking a walk along a cliff in Portugal, or seeing a sunrise from the easternmost point in Newfoundland, or taking a walk on the beach on Plum Island on a random Tuesday.

Through Ferriss and Ryan Holiday I’ve found myself reading more stoicism lately.  There are three phrases in Latin that I’m trying to embrace.  Amor fati, or “a love of fate”, Memento mori, or “remember that you have to die” and of course the old standby Carpe Diem, or “seize the day”.  Each day I’m trying to live a complete life.  Some days I accomplish more than in others, and I’m always seeking improvement.  Life, like the sand, shells and snow on a beach, is fleeting and ever-changing.  All we’re guaranteed is now.  So if now is all I’ve got, I might as well walk on a beach in January.


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