At the Beach at Night

September 1, 2009

 
Let’s swim to the moon, unhu, let’s climb through the tide; surrender to the waiting worlds that lap against our side…   -Jim Morrison
 
The intensity of loneliness on the beach at night is immeasurable. Long since tired little eyes with sick bellies full of cotton candy have gone to sleep and lovers have shared their long kiss goodnight, I find myself wandering the sands on the edge of time.
 
Daring only to dip my feet in the ocean, I feel the wet sand push up through my toes; the grains light up like crystals glistening in the soft moonlight. Sand is the ultimate symbol of materialism: You build a house on sand –it will crumble… Every grain of sand represents the physical treasures of the earth. We are taught to latch onto these treasures for support while we are still very young. Instead of reinforcing our foundation by building a stronger mind and character, we learn to consume more and more and more, building our castles higher and higher –only to find them knocked down by the incoming tide.
 
I am mesmerized by the steady rhythm of the waves crashing into the earth and wandering back home, collecting hidden treasures and secrets on the way. The white foam flowing over and throughout the waves become the essence of virgin beauty against the deep mysteries of the dark tide. The pulsating waves taunt and tantalize, beckoning me to come and play with desire. Back when I was child, I sought adventure whenever I could, but like most children, I was more clumsy than daring, and my rewards were mostly scabs and bruises on my feeble limbs. It was my mother who taught me the healing powers of the ocean; how the salt waters would cool and cleanse my wounds. I learned from my father the ways of the tide and how dangerous it could be to work against it. The ocean is the most powerful force on earth, a living being that breathes with the tide. It can choose to swallow you up, or exhale and send you back to safety. In its anger, and even its gentleness, the ocean controls the shape of the earth, beating the sands of the shorelines like a hammer, or smoothing them over like pearl with its gentle touch. Who can predict the mood of this beast? The ocean is fate.
 
Ancient sailors were the finders of new frontiers, riding into the dawn. Scientists are the new seekers looking below the murky depths for their answers to the great mysteries of the universe. But fate, of course, eventually leads us to death. How soon we venture to the drowning point is entirely up to ourselves. You can only tread water for so long; if you want to live, you must learn to swim. The better swimmer you become affords the opportunity to take higher risks, giving you a greater opportunity to live. The black waters reflecting the night sky look like death. Sometimes it is so dark you cannot find the horizon. Staring out into nothing, you must submit to the tide, unaware of where it my lead you. But there are some nights the moon is so full, there is a guiding light, a protector. Sometimes, I can even see the man’s face watching over me, letting me know there is something at the end of this journey.

As each grain of sand builds up our material lives, each star in the night sky shines bright a treasure of the heart; it may be love, peace, satisfaction, forgiveness… The stars are our conscience, our guardian angels, our friends. The sailors used the stars to find their way home, and if you search them well enough, you will see your path develop. The beach is a place where people tend to fall in love. That feeling of loneliness leaves us clinging to another’s soul. We need not take this journey alone. People need people; the nights can be too long and dark to spend them alone in this wicked world. You can fill your soul with physical pleasures, but money burns and sand castles crumble. Love is forever.

Morning bids me wake up. I sit up with salt in my mouth, sand in my underwear and in desperate need of a shower. Hardly above the horizon the sun already begins to warm up the loneliness of the night. It’s going to be a great day for the beach!

Peter L Richardson
1991

 

“beyond”

I long to see the sun set over the ocean.
The ocean is eternity;
The sunset is the end,
And soon after, you can’t see the horizon.
Midnight blurs the lines of distinction,
And the earth and the sky are endless.

Peter L Richardson
11/9/00

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