The beach

People often talk about the beach with reverence. They say things like salt water cures all or I’m happiest by the ocean or they wear things emblazoned with slogans like “Vitamin Sea” or “Off-Duty Mermaid” (I’m not sure if that last one exists, but if it doesn’t, feel free to run with it). I don’t think I’m a mermaid or anything like that, but I do resonate with the deep sense of happiness and calm that others experience when they’re by the water.

Growing up in Melbourne, it was usually easy for me to access the ocean. Now, in San Francisco, our house is only a 5 minute drive from Ocean Beach. During my last stint of unemployment, I ended up unintentionally going there almost every day. It became part of my daily routine, something I didn’t think about or plan for.

Now that I’m working full time again, I’m lucky if I can get my feet in the water once a week… but that’s okay, too.

No matter what my mental state – sad, angry, depressed, tired, elated – being near the crashing waves and wading into the water until it laps at my knees and mid-thighs provides an instant sense of calm. It’s a place of mindfulness. All I can think about is how I feel and where I am: I feel the water on my legs, the sun on my shoulders, the wind in my face, and the sand between my toes. I’m present and aware.

I’m grateful to have easy access to something so simple and so beautiful, and I’ll never take it for granted.