Saturday, July 7, 2007

Imagine (Another Day at the Beach)

T.R. Ryan

I sit here on my little spot of beach with the midday sun beating on me and I am hot. I don't think I have ever been this hot. Today Madam Pele, sitting on her majestic throne in the bowels of nearby Haleakala, has not blessed us. Her usual trail of vaporous clouds that reach out like a comforting wet arm -- providing hours of shade and coolness -- has vanished. Maybe she's gone for a manicure.

I am so hot and I only have two choices: Go back into the water and face those huge ocean swells that whisper death at every turn or sit here and take the heat. The heat makes me feel alive. I hear the ancient beats of a drum ringing in my head and I imagine dancing in a feverish pitch too close to some village fire. That's what this feels like -- fire. I can hear the hiss of water as it evaporates from my burning skin. My body is like a well-used iron scorching the air with its touch. Sweat pours from my brow and dissolves into grains of salt by the time it reaches the end of my nose. This is what lava must be like, I think; hot molten liquid bellowing from some pore and turning to hard grains of stone before the journey is over. My kidneys rumble like dry pistons in an un-oiled engine.

This heat feels nothing like the flame of passion -- more like the furnace of death -- Hell dressed up as grains of sand and withered palm trees. I manage to find the presence to ask myself just what it is about the beach that I love. At this moment I cannot remember. And I cannot read. I cannot write. I cannot think. I cannot move. I feel no breeze. I begin melting into the sand and wind and waves -- becoming part of the beach -- if not the beach itself. This is a journey of endurance, of patience and perhaps, on some level, one of stupidity. As my bottle of water morphs into an unrecognizable shape and actually does become one with the sand -- I retreat. Those waves do not look so big after all.

I wade out tenderly at first and then as the waves start coming -- begin to swim swiftly with Olympic achievement -- as if I could get beyond them. No one is around - save one brave soul. There is comfort in numbers and I instantly make a new friend. These waves are perfect for body surfing -- and I regress into an over eager child on the first day at the beach and my new friend Sean and I throw ourselves into these mass forces of destruction with reckless abandon. We don't really speak -- but we stay close by and the smiles on our faces, as we both look up into the great maw of water, cover the abject fear either would have swimming alone.

In time I am cooled and I say goodbye and return to my spot on the beach. I feel better now and am glad that the presence of my new friend Sean out there in the dangerous world gave me enough comfort to brave the waves and enjoy the cool tides of the blue Pacific as it returned me back to something recognizable and human. Sean goes back to his little spot just beyond mine -- to his waiting girlfriend -- and we simultaneously wrap ourselves in our own sarongs and begin the process again of fighting the heat.

I dry off and realize that I can touch the frame of my glasses now without searing my fingers. I put them back on my face and life, in vivid color, returns; patches of green emerge as trees begging for a breeze and that pod of late migrating whales on the horizon is nothing more than a group of snorkelers. All is right with the world again. I look back toward my friend Sean and give another smile of gratitude. He has on his glasses now too and seems to be eyeing my rock and roll inspired blue dragon net jersey shirt with a bit of envy.

While we were best friends thrashing out there in the water to save our burning souls -- he never looked the rock and roll blue dragon shirt wearing type. Now with his glasses on and with my glasses on -- I can see clearly who Sean is and just why he might seem to like my shirt.

It seems that the universe, in all her creative playfulness -- sent me bodysurfing this afternoon with Sean Lennon - son of John the Beatle and Yoko the Misunderstood. I can tell that no one recognizes him and would think I was seeing a mirage if it were not the fact that his girlfriend of the perfect body is Bijou Phillips --sister of China and sweet-voiced daughter of a Mama and a Papa. They are the same couple whose photograph graced the pages of my airline magazine just yesterday.

The progeny of musical legends -- musicians themselves -- frolic on the beach and in the waves and lounge among the trees on the fringe of my little part of the world -- reveling in their anonymity that I dare not betray. We are brothers of the surf now -- we have survived something powerful and destructive – it’s as if there is some remarkable fraternity of oceanic survivors and we are the newest initiates.

In a life where the slightest coincidence is quite often a universal message fraught with implication and timely lessons -- how do I interpret body surfing with John Lennon's baby boy wearing absolutely nothing but our birthday suits on a quiet stretch of beach in a singular, instant, remote moment of time? Is it nothing more than the world has gotten so small that we will all, in time, surf with the son of a Beatle or perhaps dance with the daughter of a Supreme?

Has the world become so open and embracing that we can do all of this wearing nothing but what we were born in? I meditate on my little spot of ocean and ponder the message. Quite honestly I cannot hum a single song that Sean has ever written. I was never a big fan of the Beatles. Late in my life John Lennon tends to emerge as a type of role model in his arbitration of world peace. That's a song I can hum to and his Imagine brings tears to my eyes every time.

Imagine world peace. Imagine body surfing naked with John's son. When it comes to pass -- the world will be a better place. Half way there now. Hope is delivered on the crest of waves.

I have often said that we should embrace the village of our youth, treasure the wisdom of those that have gone before us -- and then rise up and become citizens of the world. My world has gotten so small -- and I know the lesson today is to become a better citizen before it shrinks away. If I can imagine that...I can achieve it.

Perhaps the lesson for all of us is to know that the world, all of its citizens, are cut from the very same fabric of divinity. When we strip off the pretense of superiority -- we are all -- in our abject nakedness - exactly the same. When we finally learn to put religion and money and our differences aside and throw ourselves with reckless abandon into the sea of humanity...we will survive...and we will safely return to our little spot of the world and wrap ourselves in our own colorful sarongs and smile. Peace finally comes when we recognize our oneness with the universe. Imagine that.

TR
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