Why we dream big by the ocean: First day or Last?

Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,

We just spent a week in SeaGrove, FL. More than any other trip we’ve taken I made time to spend quiet hours alone or with just Mommy on the beach.

I wrote to you a few days ago about getting lost pursuing the horizon. I did a lot of that this week. The whole thing is so big. When you sit and gaze across the horizon you can’t take it all in. It’s impossible. You have to follow it left to right and back to get a panoramic view. Our peripheral vision isn’t able to see the entire thing – the curvature of the earth, where the sky blends with the sea in one expanse of endless space. Yellow in the morning. Orange and pink in the afternoon. And deep blue before and after.

I wondered how the Earth spins upside down and we stay bound by gravity. How the entire ocean stays fixed, as we turn and hurtle through time.

You’ll know one day the joy I find by the water. When boogie boards and sandcastles give way to reflection and horizon chasing. I dream big dreams when I’m sitting by the water. The distance across my view is too big for little ideas, beliefs, and limits. And so I sit and make use of my time just being still. Letting the sounds and possibilities fill me with new thoughts, washing away self doubt and small beliefs that  build up over time. Getting by, but not living. At least not everyday.

So, I dream big by the ocean, because the picture in front of me is too huge to dream any other way. I’m fixed in a moment. A blink of the eye, really. Dieing everyday in the human condition, but aching to live in the end and in between…to take it all in.

I spent every morning on the beach. I woke Mommy up on our last day at 5:30am (she’s not a morning person). We sat in the sand in silence, with a lot to say, but nothing worth covering up the sound of the waves. Around 6:00am an older lady walked up to us. Her hair was white and the lines in her face showed her age. She wore a Sea Turtles of South Walton volunteer shirt. She stopped to talk.

“First day or last?” she asked.

“Last day,” I said.

“It’s always hard to leave,” said Mommy.

“I know what you mean. My husband and I moved here from Atlanta a long time ago. We used to visit once a year. And one day I decided I couldn’t do it anymore,” she said. “I couldn’t spend my life counting the in between days.”

We talked for about 10 minutes. It was mostly a conversation between her and Mommy. I just listened.

Finally she said “You have to reinvent yourself.”

And with that she said goodbye and walked down the beach. I watched her walk until I couldn’t see her anymore.

“You want her to come back, don’t you?” asked Mommy.

I was quiet. Eyes still searching the distance down the beach for her. Finally I said “Yeah, I guess I do.”

We walked along the beach for awhile longer, letting the water wash over our feet. Around 7:30 we decided that we better go back to the house to see if every one was awake. As we walked up the beach and back into our life the old ladies voice rang in my head:

“First day or last?”

“You have to reinvent yourself.”

I don’t think she showed up by accident. And I wonder about the answer to her question in my life. First day? or Last? And I wonder about my process of reinventing myself over the last year and where its all going. What that reinvention will look like and how many in between day there will be.

I took one final look at the Gulf. It was still too big to grasp and so are the possibilities, I guess.

I love you kids,

– Daddy

Izzy with her feet in the water one last time

Getting you two to actually look at the camera is next to impossible!

Our pretty little girl.

This is Mommy’s favorite picture from our vacation. It’s me watching you play with your new friend, Izzy. His name is Will. She says I sat and watched you like a hawk for two hours…because he’s a boy. But it’s not because he’s a boy. It’s because you’re my little girl and I’ll always be there, watching out for you, inspired by how much you’re growing up and becoming a little lady. Remember this picture. And know that I’ll always be nearby.

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