The Beach

For many, the beach may not seem like a place for quiet reflection. But if you make your way away from the crowds in search of calm, the reward is most often worth the effort.

Growing up on the rocky, rugged coastlines of New England, my impressions of the beach were of cold, jagged, foreboding places where only the most determined species managed to survive. The water was frigid, the wind whipped at your hair, and on the few sunny days that arrived in August, what little open space there was between the rocky crags was filled with people, crammed like sardines, trying to stock up on vitamin D for the long winter months ahead.

As I made my way out into the world though, I was lucky enough to visit beaches in Hawaii, Fiji, Florida, Wales, France, Denmark, Sweden and Norway, and all up and down the west coast of the North America.

I learned to appreciate each coastline in its own right, to celebrate the ocean’s vital role in the communities that lived in each of these areas, and to honor the local customs and legends that had been handed down through centuries of working and living along the waterfronnt.

A beach is about so much more than we realize, if our only contact with one is when we want some time in the sun.

Beaches are the coming together of the most fundamental elements in all of life, they are home to thousands of unique species of life, they represent whole economies, they are the source of many of our cultural mythologies and they are, perhaps above all else, a reminder of the rugged yet fragile nature of our planet.

Next time you have the opportunity to visit the coast, any coast, find yourself a spot that offers some remove from the beach itself and take some time to think about the vastness of the horizon, the millenia it took to grind up all the rock now deposited as sand, or the relationship of our moon and its effect on our tides.

That sort of perspective always helps me realign.

This photograph is from off the beaten path at Jones Beach in Wantagh, NY. The audio is from keweldog on