The Beach and the Power of Calm

Today I treated myself to another walk on the beach. It was a bit cold, but sunny, without wind, which is rare. There must have been some wind active further out on the sea though, because the waves rolling in were quite high – much to the pleasure of a lot of surfers who did not seem to mind the cold at all.

As it was a normal weekday morning there were not so many people on the beach, just some solitary walkers with their dogs, a few couples and even fewer mothers with small children in rubber boots who tried to play tag with the waves. The surfers were all out in the water, from the distance they looked like seals in their wetsuits.

I walked for a while, looking at nothing special, just feeling the warmth of the sun on my back. When I finally turned around to head back I walked a bit closer to the water line. The tide was low, so low that first I thought it must be at its lowest. But when I stopped and watched the coming and going of the waves I realised the water level was still sinking. There were a lot of fresh sea shells lying around, and of course I started picking some of them up. I never leave the beach with not at least one or two special ones, or an oddly shaped stone. I kept on looking, saw the water flowing out of the little sand pools, trying to get back to the sea. Now and then one of the bigger waves refilled them a bit, but all in all the beach was growing bigger. You could actually see the sand getting drier where the water had left. It did not glisten so much in the sun anymore, growing darker and softer looking.

I stood and watched and felt calm. Where all attempts to meditate regularly fail, sea and sand easily succeeded. I stopped thinking, I merely observed. I was.

 

 

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Thoughts on (Happy) Birthdays

Isn’t it strange how the perception of one’s birthday changes over the years?

Look at my little one: He has been waiting for his birthday ever since his older brother had his (three months). He has been planning his perfect day with a perfect cake (rainbow cake!) and presents and pizza and a party (a few days later). When the day came, he seemed to absorb all of it with an intensity only children have. He loved every minute of it. Loved his cake and his presents and bringing muffins to school to share with his class mates. He loved the attention he got at school. He would shout “It’s my birthday!” across the street to a neighbour. He prepared the party bags with care (thinking a lot about which coloured pencil to put into which bag, according to the colour preferences of his friends) and even made some for friends he could not invite (lack of space). His birthday was really the day. And he is so proud of being one year older now.

Now look at me: My birthday is shortly after his, and in a way I had been looking forward to it too. Not to officially being one year older (although it really is only one day…at a time), but to having a “special day”. Or a day to feel special. At the same time I felt a bit like this was a childish emotion. My mother said a few years ago that “birthdays do not matter so much any more as you get older” – that being meant as a sort of consolation for a birthday that was sucked up by dirty diapers and toddler’s needs. It did not make me fell any better though. Officially I agreed with her, laughing away any birthday ambitions, but secretly I thought: “But why can’t I have a special day anymore? Just because I am a mum myself now?”

Time has passed and now my kids are old enough to not only love their own birthdays but to want to make it a special day for me too. So little one made me a book with drawings and a story he wrote for me. And older one asked me what I would like to have as a present. Husband got me a cake and they all helped me eating it. They gave me a “morning off” so I could take my bike, ride to the beach and have a solitary walk there.

It was windy, almost stormy, but sunny. A friend of mine once said the North Sea was actually no proper sea since it was not blue but grey and muddy. On my birthday morning however it was looking rather  pretty – if not dazzling blue, it was at least blueish streaked with grey, with dramatic waves with foamy crests. The sky was blue, the sun was shining and the wind blew whisks of sand over the beach. I put the hood of my coat over my head (I foolishly had left my cosy hat at home, forgetting the rule that the wind always blows twice as hard at the beach as in our street), and for a while I just stood there and looked at the waves in front of me and at the thoughts in my head. I think I subconsciously sorted out life, universe and everything there on the beach, leaving me quite content and calm.

The rest of the day was partly birthday-ish and partly “normal”. Special things kept coming up. Ordering fancy food for dinner. Husband taking care of the bedtime rituals and the dishes.

In the evening both my sons asked me if I had a happy birthday. They really wanted to know, wanted to make sure I enjoyed “my” day as much as they had theirs.

And I did. I truly did.

Thank you family, for making me feel special.