sleep on the beach if we ain’t got a ride
I believe quite strongly in certain universal truths experienced by way of humanity; one of those truths is that we all find a sense of romance in some of the elements of nature. For some, that may manifest itself as fear, but there’s a mysticism about it nonetheless.
For example, the beach. You either run towards it or from it: the beach is polarizing. It also takes a million different shapes through the course of any given day, and it forces you to react in kind. The ocean at night isnt the same one that you spent your morning lying next to, watching surfers glide its surface.
There are really only a small handful of things I think about lately, and one of those things is physicality. I spent some time at my parents house a few weeks back pulling weeds and gathering sticks, and I started thinking about movement and tasks and how when your brain hits the right stride, things like weeding or making pizza dough or mending buttons become important parts of the day rather than tasks on a to-do list.
Nothing that ends up on a to-do list ever feels full of joy, and I say this as someone who is very, very tied to their to-do list.
But there is this: the importance of doing things with your hands. As a kid, I took all of that for granted. I told Gwen the other day that I felt that all these years of living in New York had beaten the usefulness out of me. I used to ride my bike for hours a day before I had to care about traffic and helmets. I used to make my own tables and shelves when I had a place to store wood and tools. I used to know how to grow things and fix things and thought, at some point, that I was perfectly capable of running a farm. I still wake up most mornings by six, and I feel a bit lost if there isn’t a reason to run outside first thing. I am, in general, usually trying to figure out what to do with my hands.
I wonder on occasion if that’s what is hardest about cities and why so many people are so easily dissatisfied. It’s possible there just isn’t enough here to touch.
Yesterday I went to the beach and I wished very hard for someone to take me under their wing and teach me not just to surf, but to become someone with the body strength and ease of motion to even be able to surf. I went home reluctantly after three or for hours, unwilling to burn. Four hours later I returned on a nighttime drive with a friend, and we took off our shoes and kicked around in the water and I thought about how stupid it is that with the things I worry about getting right, none of them make me as happy as kicking around in the water.
We met a guy at the neighborhood bar; we asked him if he surfed and he said no. But, he added, he did go to the beach every day, and sometimes at night he’d drink a few beers and sleep out in the sand. I looked over at my friend later, as I walked through the surf, and thought about what it would be like if we just didn’t leave.
I woke up this morning to a bathtub full of the sand I’d rinsed off my feet the night before. It seems, somehow, like a step in the right direction.