On the beach, forces of nature converge to freeze time and speak to us in ways that are both inspirational and pensive. Harmony found in the unity of land, sea and sky begets a wistfulness that Hamlet could admire, lost as he was in thoughts while the world crumbled around him.
To avoid such a collapse, vacations decompress the body and soul of their angst. Yet with nothing to do but pass time, losing myself in thought seems a lot better than trashy novels and margaritas.
At night the sands of Cocoa Beach, Fla. are different than in daytime. Far from sun idolatry and hedonism, October’s moon on the Atlantic horizon shines a different light, one meant for another type of worship.
More than a thousand miles from home, I miss the autumn night chill of New England, but take solace in the surf’s back-and-forth brush against my bare feet. It pulls the sand out from under me, reminding me who is in charge. Thankfully, though, I’m a visitor, not an intruder.
The poet Walter de la Mare comes to mind, whose verse "Silver" has been a staple in English classes for nearly a century: "Slowly, silently, now the moon / Walks the night in her silver shoon..."
With a name that means "of the sea," he must have known something of this. The trail of silver footprints left studded on the ocean approaches me like a trusted friend, a phenomenon which also draws in the other beach
Some stroll together arm in arm, stopping for a moment to whisper and kiss, their shadows cast on the white sand. Others sit on baby dunes where the surf can’t douse them, staring at the light, the water, and listening to the crash of each wave.
It is here where sound merges with silence. The breeze and tide dance in a rhythm not unlike that of de la Mare’s poem, voices speaking to both instinct and memory, and never quite settling on one. Together they ease any tension between the comfort of knowledge and the inevitability of longing.
On this night, my fellow onlookers yearn. Lunar sightings aren’t guaranteed in the realm of tropical storms and hurricanes, so we are grateful. Like a lighthouse guiding ships into a safe harbor, its beacon clings to our desires, calling out those brave enough to laugh, to cry, or maybe just to be.
And while those thoughts scatter all along the beach, the silver sheen allows us to open our hearts, as well as our eyes, in the darkness. Election year headlines left behind in motel rooms and family dwellings still pound us with the notion that our world continues to crumble a bit as we take in the waves.
So now, all of us on the beach can come full circle and forgive Hamlet his inaction. In the end, if we can’t even do that, how will we ever forgive ourselves?
This question lingers as the surf scoops yet another inch of sand out from under my feet, making me wobble like a first grader whose father removed the training wheels from his bike. Unsure of my next step, I go further in. This steadies me, and that’s really all I need.
After that, the only thing left is redemption, but that’s not up to us on the beach. We’ll leave that to nature or God.
Draped in her evening cloak, the moon reads my heart and waits patiently. She yields a silver harvest from dark waters, and follows me down the night as the surf rushes in, erasing my footprints.
Telly Halkias is an award-winning freelance journalist. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.