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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Beach Lessons - #2 – Beach People are Happy People

Beach people are happy people, generally at least.  During my sunrise runs, most people I pass on the beach are content, if not downright joyful. Fishing, walking their dogs, running barefoot along the shoreline (like me) or up on softer sand in running shoes with headphones.  To me, an early morning walk or run on the beach is one of life’s greatest pleasures and a true “oasis moment”.  (I believe this would be true even if I were lucky enough to live near a beach and have the opportunity to run there anytime I wanted and not just the one or two weeks out of a year that vacation currently allows. A theory I hope to test in the future!) 

Recently, I realized during one of these morning constitutionals that I was so focused on the stretch of sand just ahead of me that I had to remind myself to stop and take a moment to turn to the sea, to breathe in the fresh morning air and drink in the splendor of the foamy white waves rolling onto the shoreline.  As I took a moment to revel in the beauty and rhythm of the rolling waves, the sounds of the surf and feel of the salty breeze on my face and the soft sand beneath my feet, I realized that this was just like our day-to-day lives.  Often, we set off running through our days – seeing only the few feet in front of us – attention focused on the immediate tasks at hand.  It’s only when we remind ourselves to stop and really take in the wonder and beauty of life that we can revel in the present moment. 

It seems to me that one of the benefits of mid-life is this is a time we finally begin to appreciate how delightful, how important and how absolutely necessary it is to stop and smell the roses (or sea air, or first cup of coffee of the day).  In our 20’s we’re usually moving fast and furiously (even if we don’t know what we’re moving towards).  In our 30’s – we may have others’ needs to consider (a partner, a child, a boss…) and we tend to put our needs on the back burner.  But as we approach our 40’s and beyond, it begins to dawn on us – “Hey – this is my life.  No one else is going to live it or enjoy it for me.  I better starting doing some things that I want to do for a change!”  Mid-life oasis here I come!

And, if by chance you haven’t had that though yet, let me by the first to share it with you – take some time today, (take some time every day), to treat yourself to an oasis moment.  Turn towards the waves and the rising sun in your world and revel in it.  Paint your toenails or a canvas or a t-shirt.  Toast your girlfriends or some marshmallows around a campfire in your backyard.  Take a walk – even if it’s just around the block and notice five things you’ve never seen before.  Dedicate the experience to yourself.  Be fully present in the moment and let it fill you with delight.  Then watch how little bursts of joy seep into other aspects of your day.  You may find yourself smiling for no particular reason other than it just feels better that way.

Beach people are happy people…and my wish for you today is that you enjoy a little bit of beach people attitude wherever you may be.