The Beach

The waves lap up on the golden, sandy beach, giving me an ethereal feeling as I walk, my feet feeling each grain of sand as it sifts through my toes; there’s no better feeling. The sound of the small surf lapping against the pristine shoreline provides a feeling of calm and an immediate forgetfulness of all my troubles. It soothes my soul and enables me to think and evoke feelings of tranquility. I could do this forever.

There’s not a soul on the beach; only the seagulls make noise above my head and there’s a small boat in the distance, rocking back and forth gently with the small wave crests. I see no houses or evidence of inhabitation; it’s only me. Palm trees and luscious green shrubbery border the edge of the sand.

It almost reminiscent of where Robinson Crusoe may have landed at his deserted beach way back when. It’s not like a Caribbean tourist destination flooded with drunken vacationers escaping their reality for a brief, fleeting weekend. It’s forever and that’s all there is—nothing else in this world except for this beach and this moment.

I keep walking, with no destination in mind, just walking, being in the moment, which is so rare in this world of perpetual obligations and stress; it’s almost surreal. Where is everyone? Civilization seems a million miles away.

I walk maybe two miles without encountering anything. The beach turns around a steep cliff face, rising apparently out of nowhere. I look up and see large rocks jutting out of the face, and there, in the middle of nowhere, is a boy, maybe eleven years of age, just sitting, looking out at the ocean. He waves, and I wave back as I approach.

“Hey, what’re you doing here?” I ask.

He’s sipping coconut water out of a broken coconut.

“You’re the first person I’ve seen since I’ve been here.”

“I live here,” he responds, in broken English.

“Here?” I ask, incredulous. “People live here?”

“No,” he answers. “But I live here—alone.”

“How can that be?” I inquire. “There’s no one else here. There’s no civilization. How can you survive all alone?”

“I live with my thoughts,” he says.

“But isn’t it lonely—all by yourself?”

“No,” he says. “All by yourself is actually where you always are.”

“But, you’re a kid,” I say. “What do you mean by that?”

“I mean it’s only myself and my thoughts, just as it’s only you with yours.”

“I’m confused,” I tell him. “I live with people, not thoughts.”

“That’s where you’re wrong,” he says. “In the end, it’s only you and your thoughts.”

“Okay, can you clarify?”

“Think carefully as you proceed,” he advises. “And remember what I told you. That’s all I can tell you.”

“Okay,” I respond, puzzled. I give him a backward glance while I proceed along the beach.

As I turn the next bend around another cliff face, I hear a loud, shrill sound. It startles me. It shouldn’t though.

Abruptly, my right hand moves and I pick up the phone. “Can I help you?” I ask, jolted out of my journey.

“I’m calling about a software purchase,” the voice on the phone says.  “I received something in the mail and…”

Wait, I thought I was just on a beach in the middle of some non-reality, my mind says. Then I look up.

That beach is just a black and white picture above my desk, a picture I never noticed, despite the fact that I’ve been at this office for a year. I wonder why I never noticed it before, because my subconscious mind surely did.

“Yes, how can I help you, Sir?” I respond.

I glance at the time on my computer. Three more hours until five o’clock…and freedom.

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