Cleanup at the Beach

The sun shone bright making me squint. The steady breeze was soothing. So was the sound of the sea. The waves gently ebb, moving back and forth. The tranquil is striking but very much welcome. It heightens ones senses and I try to take in as much as I can.

The first feeling is that of being watched, silently by many hidden forces. They have their stories to tell, if only one would care to listen to them.

I settle down on the sand and look out into the open sea (shielding my eyes from the sun). The powerful rocks catch my attention. Waves ram straight into them but have to part to go around. The rocks are unwilling to budge to the rash torrents which are trying to push them off their stand. They tell me that there are things worth fighting for even if the mighty ocean is against you. But then the sea does have her way, chipping and eroding the hard boulders. So the outside world does affect one’s nature. Keep good company – the rocks say. It affects you no matter how strong you are.

The sun is far from setting but then time flies. I look down at my feet, caked in sand. The grains sparkle in multitudes of colours and grab my attention. The beach is also marked by the sea. She has shaped it according to her whims. There are footprints all over, marking man’s existence. As is his inherent nature, man feels the need to establish and mark his presence in the world. The footprints of a little kid struggling to outscore his peers in exams, the teen burning the midnight oil to get into a top notch institute, distinguishing himself with all kinds of achievements and ending up as an adult running the huge rat-race. But within moments, the waves wash over them all, leaving the sand as smooth as it ever was. Such is the nature of life – temporary. Though trodden over, the sand on my feet tells me how easy it is to pick up dirt, as is the case with such habits. The only way to get rid of them is to walk right into the sea. Be careful of what you pick up– they say.

The sun has moved halfway down but it hasn’t cut down on its magnificence. I lie back to take in the clear blue sky. The moon is right up there opposite the sun challenging the latter’s rule over the skies. All the same, the moon is grateful to him as he knows that his own shine is thanks to the sun. Gratitude – rare to find these days. We don’t care as long as we get what we want no matter how. Expressing “thanks” is becoming an inconvenience. ‘I owe my place in the sky to the sun, the moment his light fails to fall on me, I plunge into the dark void. I am grateful for my existence and so should you be for you know not when you might lose all you have’ – the moon’s lesson to me.

A boy points out to his friend the little crabs on the beach. The little creatures look very funny indeed, scuttling across sideways. Their popped up eyes remind me of a childhood companion who used to sell burgers under the sea along with his yellow sponge friend. The weird behaviour of the crabs is amusing. They run right up to the surf and then run back across as soon as the waves come in. Daring the water to touch them or too scared to jump in? That one will remain a mystery.

The sea breeze ruffles my hair. Strong and steady yet so soothing, it calms down the agitating storm of thoughts within the mind. But then the same wind has many faces. It reminds me of places where the gale threatens to blow one off his feet and even those where the breeze gently caress one. The world changes rapidly. And so do we. New places, new people, different perspectives. One should adapt to stand in face of change – the wind tells.

The waves break down on the rocks with greater force and gush further into the beach. Bring back memories of the surprise beach birthday party. The sea had decided to give us a treat of her own by adding her salted flavour to the chocolate cake. And so we ate the salty cake. But then we enjoyed it. As we were together. Friends. You laugh together, celebrate together, even weep together. Always there for you when you need them. Friends add a lot of colour to what would otherwise be a dull life. Right then, the lighthouse catches my eye. Its beams are rays of hope to the ships stranded out in the open sea, going on and on, carried by the currents, without any sign of land. Our parents, friends and teachers are our lighthouses, keep us on course in our voyage. Taking the moon’s lesson already, I am grateful for making me cross paths with so many wonderful people.

The sun takes a deeper shade and prepares to set. Birds fly overhead in their classic V formation displaying impeccable team playing skills. What we need coaching and practice to learn comes naturally to them. Even then, we don’t learn, plagued by our prejudices.

I stand up to walk back. I wish I could stay here listening. The day is at its end; the sun deep red now and almost at the horizon. Meanwhile he delegates the night-shift responsibility to the moon, who is now rising up the sky.  I take one last look at the sea, the beach, the sun and the moon. Whoever thought they had such wonderful tales to tell! In retrospect, the walk on the beach acted as a disk cleanup for my cluttered mind! The sound of the sea recedes in the background.

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