Life’s a Beach

Today, while enjoying the Atlantic waters along the beaches of Edisto Island, my two-year old niece (and god-daughter) got stung by a jelly fish.  The tentacles caught her hip and wrapped completely around her thigh and caught her ankle as well.

Later in the afternoon, while playing in the surf of high tide on my fathers 8 foot sit-on-top kayak, I got caught by a wave, put the nose of the boat into the sandy bottom and slid out of the boat as it flipped over my head, narrowly avoiding major injury.  I escaped with a bruised tailbone and a sore knee.

As we continued to play out in the surf, after beaching the kayaks, I laughed alongside my sister, brother-in-law and cousins from both sides of the family as we got pummeled by wave after wave that crashed onto the beach.

The beach has always been a special place for my family, especially Edisto.  In a world of high-strung personalities and crazy schedules, it is a place where we can escape to relax and recover from the weight of the world.  It is also a place where many valuable life lessons are learned.

While waiting to catch a wave into shore yesterday, someone made the comment that there were no good waves.  It was true.  Due to the changing shelf of sand, the waves are breaking right along the shore as the beach drops off sharply into the ocean.  This makes playing in the surf a little more hazardous than usual (especially if you are trying to ride a wave in on a kayak).

My nephew (the twin brother of my two-year old god-daughter) learned the hard way when a wave caught him playing in the sand and knocked him off his feet.

The power of the waves comes from their constant pounding on the beach.  Over the years I’ve learned to watch the waves as I try to catch one to ride in.  It isn’t that there are no good waves, it’s the simple fact that we may not be in the right place to catch the one that is perfect for us.  Many waves are ‘too small’ and break to far in.  Others are above our comfort level (yet we catch them anyways or get thrown unexpectedly towards the shore).  It takes a little bit of patience and skill to find the right wave to ride to shore, and even then, there is the risk of flipping.

Several years ago, I caught a wave that was just too big for me to handle.  I had a spectacular crash onto the shore that left me bruised and shaken.  I sat out for a couple of minutes to recover, but the pull of the ocean brought me back out, kayak and all.

On the next wave, I was scared out of my mind.  The waves were still huge and I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was going to crash yet again.  Lo and behold, I found myself tossed into the surf, no longer on the kayak.

The surf has never been a place to be safe, it’s a place to learn and grow.  I have been tossed numerous times by waves big and small, but that doesn’t stop me from jumping back in and trying again, and again, and again.

After getting stung, my god-daughter cried a little as we put vinegar on the sting, but within the hour, she was back at the water’s edge, unafraid.  I got back into the kayak (somewhat more carefully) and caught several more waves in.  And while we got pummeled over and over again, we laughed and enjoyed the company of family, friends, and the salty ocean water that continues to teach us that we are not always in control.

My brother-in-law and cousins joked that we should start a spa and therapy center on the beach, to remind ‘patients’ that they were not always going to be in control of their lives, but forces more powerful than they are (aka: waves) were going to push them around.  I think we should all remember that, and enjoy the never-ending assault of waves that crash into us.

Just some thoughts….

God Bless and PEACE

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