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This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Friday, August 11, 2023

Today is National Play in the Sand day, which seems like a topic just made for the wording.

I haven’t played in the sand for… who even knows how long. Like every kid I turned buckets of sand over to make castles. But that was not nearly as much fun as sitting in the sand at the edge of the water and sinking in and in until you were half buried and part of the beach.

I went home with a lot of sand in my bathing suit.

It’s been a long time since I merged with a sand dune, but I still love walking on the sand whenever the opportunity presents itself. I love being on the beach, day or night, winter or summer. Mostly not summer though because that’s when the tourists come out with their giant umbrellas and their 4x4s and drive down the beach. It drives me nuts… no pun intended… when people drive on the sand.

Go back to your highways and driveways, and leave the sand to the rest of us who love it, not merely use it as an alternate roadway for those too lazy to walk and too blind to appreciate it.

A beach stroll is perhaps the single most restorative thing you can do. Sand is soothing, mesmerizing.

Perhaps not the hothothot sand but the cool sand, the warm sand, the wet sand, the dry sand. The sand at the edge of the water so the foam bubbles up over your toes and washes out your footprints, proof that there is something bigger out there than you.

Proof that you are a mere speck that will be washed away sooner or later. I don’t find this depressing, I find it freeing. The ocean isn’t a problem to solve or a force to conquer. It doesn’t care who you are or how long you walk there. It makes no difference whether you’ve stuck to your diet or missed a deadline. It makes me feel that no matter what is happening, however big the obstacles seem when you’re walking on pavement or running on treadmills, it all washes away on the sand.

In the grand scheme of the universe, only the moment you’re in is important, and then it is gone.

I love that idea.

Whenever there is a beach I can’t help taking off my shoes and walking in the sand. When Ralph and I stayed overnight in Asbury Park so we could hit the local BNI meetings early the next day, I always needed to swing by the beach and stand there for a while. Not just stand there, but get my toes in the sand.

It seems wrong to be within sight of a beach and not walk there. A lost moment.

When we lived in Brigantine I walked on the beach so much that sometimes I got lazy. And I’d be like meh, I don’t feel like taking my shoes off.

But really, why not? What amount of time does it take to kick off your shoes? So you go home with a few grains in your socks and then you stand in the shower for two seconds. Or not. What’s wrong with a little sand in your shoes?

Sometimes I’d debate myself.

Me: I’m only doing a short walk today. When I have more time I’ll take my shoes off.

Self: When are you going to have more time? How long will you wait? How many things are you going to tell yourself you can’t do today? How many things will you never do because there was never enough time but somehow always enough time for work and laundry? What if there is no other time but now? What if you die? Will it be important that you raced back to your desk chair? Will it be important that you have your shoes on?

Me: {{{takes off shoes and walks on sand}}}

Sand is the less celebrated part of being beachside. Usually the ocean gets top billing, and birds squawk their way to the center of attention. But sand is your steady companion, literally the ground on which you build your castles and dreams. Even the driftwood approves.

I love finding other footprints in the sand, little bird toes or dog paws. A moment, pressed into the earth then gone but for the memory.
Sand is moody. Sometimes it’s smooth and serene.

Sometimes it’s all riled up.

Many times it just likes to show off.

The sand is an excellent picnic spot, even if some horrible people occasionally drive right over your lunch.

It collects things, just like I do.

Sand holds many treasures.

You just have to look for them.

Whatever you’re doing the next time you see a beach, stop. Do not pass Go. Walk directly to the edge, take your shoes off and start walking. If you feel compelled, sit. Always collect a shell or two. Or twenty. Trust me, you could do a whole lot worse than spend a day on the sand.

Photo: Asbury Park beach, off season. Just the way I like it.