Saturday, August 17, 2013

Discovering life's little "beaches"...

A tiny, perfect beach - but only visible when the tide is out.
We came upon a tiny, perfect, and most inviting beach the other day while paddling south of Gabriola Island. We'd missed it before but when the tide is up, it's down and quite out of sight.

"Beaches" can be very special - almost essential in fact. Just to be clear, I'm not normally a beach person - at least not the sandy, sunny places where folks often sit / lie around and soak up the sun. Way too much being in one place for my liking! Besides, the thought of those ultra-violet rays penetrating my sunscreen-drenched and delicate facial skin - without even the reward of an adventure - is simply unthinkable!

The figurative idea of heading to the "beach", however is still a very appealing one. Beaches are often in very desirable locations and offer respite and sanctuary from the work-a-day world and the usual cares and snares that can weigh us down in life. Beaches take us away from the familiar and the routine and offer, even if only for a short time, a luxurious experience that calms and settles the mind and spirit.

Now this particular beach, well, it was a true "hard rock" café for an hour.
The fact is, however, most of us can't fly off to the sands of Maui or Spain's Costa del Sol at a we have to find little "beaches", miniature vacations, places of respite, where we can have a some "time out" - wherever we are.

When we lived in Calgary we had a number of such places. One was a favourite café - funky, out of the way, and full of eclectic choices on the menu chalk board. An Americano and a bagel became a "30 minute holiday". Driving by the Glenmore Reservoir, I'd pause for ten or fifteen minutes, gaze upon the tiny sailboats bobbing in the waves, and pretend it was the Pacific Ocean. (Adults can make-believe too!) Believe it or not, it was pretty refreshing. I left, good to go, to the next commitment. At the international airport, I'd watch planes take off and land, Tim's coffee in hand. Thirty minutes did the trick, and then it was back to the next commitment that awaited. Out here, even without full-time responsibilities now, it's important to regularly hit the "beach". An hour, running or hiking on the nearby trails, or time on the bike (or even the treadmill!) serves to refresh and replenish energy and renew perspective. Certainly, time in the kayak cockpit does it!

I have seen far too many folks in the "helping" professions, where we spent almost four decades, work themselves into "old" age. Respite is required...daily. Everyone benefits from time on a "beach".

It would be very interesting to know where you find yours.



  1. Times of respite are so very important, sadly we sometimes forget this in our busy lives.
    My "beach" as you know truly is being at the beach although lately I find being out on the trails just as refreshing and energizing.

  2. Thank goodness, someone has a "beach" to share! Haha. Yes, beach / trails...all pretty sweet, and great places to spend time. :) D.

  3. Hi Duncan,

    Aside from the obvious being in the hills or out on the water, when I can't do those things I can find my "beach" inside myself; reliving memories of particular days - or perhaps reading about others' experiences.

    So for me, the "beach" can be internalised too :o)

    Kind Regards

  4. Thank you for that perspective, Ian. I think you're quite right. The internal "beaches" travel with us and offer such varied treasures. I too find a similar resource in the writings of others. Warm wishes. Duncan.

  5. Hi, J and D

    You are so right about having a beach! I have more than one, and they're mostly dry.

    A fabric store can restore one's soul. Absorb colour, pattern, texture. See garments or curtains or slip covers. The best part is that you don't have to make any of it!

    Bookstores: what could be more soul-satisfying than visiting a bookstore. It matters not if it's brand new colourful books in a light and bright Chapters, or a dim, mysterious, exciting, creaky-floored "used" (I think of them as pre-loved) emporium.

    Another beach, and one I don't visit nearly enough, is a walk through the old part of town. I'm always grateful that there isn't a lot of foot traffic to hear me talking to the gardens and praising/admonishing their owners!

  6. Hi Marilyn, so nice to hear from you and thank you for your comment. I think you're going to enjoy a variety of wonderful "beaches" soon on your upcoming journey - lucky you! Congrats also on the book. :) Duncan.