September 10: Surfers peppered the ocean as far as I could see, bobbing in the shimmer of an early September morning. I watched a teenage boy, planted on the beach, as he gazed at his phone. Then he looked up. I did too, to see a delicate drone hovering over the surfers in the lineup. The drone — like a Tinkertoy gull — accompanied one particular surfer, whom I took to be the teenager’s older brother. Eventually, the seated boy called the drone back and it settled on his outstretched palm as gently as a falcon to her falconer. The surfer, his session ended, grabbed the handles of his brother’s wheel chair and pulled him back from the curious foam.
September 11: At the water’s edge, a small boy dashed back and forth, flinging a constant stream of words out to the world. He talked to his mom. He talked to the ocean. He narrated his own action hero adventure (judging from the Hulk poses). He wiggled his fingers at the waves, inviting them to make friends. He spoke entirely in Spanish, but I easily understood his joy.
September 12: At her suggestion, my friend Kathy and I spread our beach belongings close to the water line for an unimpeded view of the ocean. I swam out beyond the crash zone and soon was joined by a surfer. When the surfer floated nearer to me I dutifully backed away to preserve a safe distance between us. Eventually I returned to the sand and was astonished to see Nate’s gear next to my chair. Kathy reported that by coincidence Nate arrived at our smidgen of beach, somehow recognized me in the water, and maneuvered his board out to where I was. Eventually, though, he stopped trying to use the ocean to say hello.
September 13: On this beautiful beach morning, another retiree settled her chair 20 feet from mine. We exchanged greetings, got to chatting, and eventually wandered into the ocean together. As we floated in the low tide, she mentioned that her son, born with Downs, competed in the 2005 Nagano Winter Special Olympics on the U.S. downhill team. He and the other athletes lived with host families, and my new friend made the trip to cheer him on. As I ducked below the cresting waves, I imagined her son zipping down the course. I didn’t have to imagine his mother’s pride.
September 14: A bit of too-vigorous backyard pruning unsettled me as I drove to my yoga studio. I caught myself and resolved to enter a yogic sensibility. (I’m pretty good at summoning it; I’m not so good at sustaining it.) As though to help me along, my all-time favorite song, Walking on Sunshine, popped up on the radio. I rode the energy all the way to the studio and relished the yang/yin of today’s practice. In benediction, our teacher read from a poem by Kabir, a 15th-century Indian mystic poet, called Friend, Hope for the Guest While You are Alive. Parts of the poem go:
“Friend, hope for the Guest while you are alive.
Jump into experience while you are alive!
Think … and think … while you are alive.
When the Guest is being searched for,
it is the intensity of the longing for the Guest
that does all the work.”
YES. As I walked to my car, the chorus of Walking on Sunshine exploded in my head: “I feel alive, I feel alive, I feel alive, I feel alive.” … I love when the universe conspires like this — and I notice.
p.s. Ok, I checked the lyrics and they actually say “I feel alive, I feel the love, I feel the love that’s really real.” In light of Kabir’s poem, that definitely works too.
p.s.s. I also discovered that, for the last 40 years, I had misnamed the band who made Walking on Sunshine. Their actual name is Katrina and the Waves. Nice.
September 15: I walked the long way to the ballpark, treating myself to an autumn promenade next to the Anacostia River before joining the baseball throng. I’d been a little pokey getting on the Metro and, by the time I reached the river, first pitch was less than ten minutes away. Must See First Pitch. I resolved to scamper over to the birch grove to photograph the teak lounge chairs and dash off; tonight I’d write something wistful or wise about slowing down.
First pitch has come and gone. I’m still sitting on the teak lounger. Wise, not wistful.
September 16: I waited forever to get outside today, and when I finally laced up my sneakers the rains came. Nevertheless, my local coffee shop called to me, as did my book. What to do? Slipping past my car keys to grab rain coat and umbrella, I stepped into the downpour. Twenty minutes later, I reached the coffee shop. My raincoat dripped puddles on the covered deck and I felt thunder vibrate through my mug. I settled into my book. I had certainly groused often enough when a surprise downpour “blessed” my evening walk from the Metro. Today, being well-shod and well-draped — and choosing the adventure — made all the difference.
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