Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Longing

The best time to visit the beach is in November.

I have only visited the beach once in November, a very long time ago, and I have never forgotten the experience. It was like my world had stopped for a moment and allowed me to get off. I have always loved the water, and I’ve always loved the sea. But I think I fell in love with it completely, irrevocably that one time.

I know that sounds rather odd. After all it is in the summer that people are preoccupied with thoughts of sun, sand, and sea. In the summer months, beaches are teeming with people, the air cloyingly thick with the scent of suntan oil and human sweat, and hardly a spot to spread your towel. Swimming areas are frustratingly crowded, and you can rarely swim more than a few meters before bumping into another group of bathers. It is a chaotic place, the sights and sounds distracting. There’s so much to see, so much to do, so much to experience that you can hardly imagine where you will find the time to do it all.

But in November, chaos gives way to tranquility. There is nothing and no one but the sun, the sea, the sky – and you, as you bask in the beauty and the serenity of it all. There is no better time to feel the warm gritty sand playing hide-and-seek with your toes, or appreciate the blindingly blue sky, or to listen to the music of the waves crashing against the shore, or smell the hint of adventure riding on the sea breeze as it kisses your face.

At night the cerulean sky gives way to a blanket of black, studded by stars you’ve never seen before, and the silence is only punctuated by the sound of the inexorable turning of the tides. There is a hint of chill in the air, softened by the velvet humidity of the sea. You can lie on the sand and imagine yourself all alone under a ceiling of a million stars.

Time is suspended here, the turning of the days marked only by glorious sunsets and unblemished sunrises. It becomes the perfect place to be alone, to be quiet, to rest. Yet somehow, it is not a lonely kind of aloneness. It becomes easy to imagine that you are a part of this place, easy to imagine how we could have come from the sea.

Everyone is in need of quiet places where being alone is not loneliness but solitude. This is mine. And it has been such a long time since I have last come home to it.

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