Rarely do I have sea-time without having to keep an eye on the kids. Miraculously, they all decided they were hungry at once and traipsed back up the beach to my poor, tired husband to eat. I remained in the ocean, blissed out and floating, treading water lightly, or reclining fully to feel the weight of the sun on my face. It was glorious. I wasn’t consciously trying to be in the moment, or attempting to grasp a fleeting feeling of gratitude, things I often try to do when I take a few precious seconds to marvel at the horizon. It was enough to just be caressed by the swells, gently pushed this way and that.
Not far from me a gentleman also bobbed around, on a small boogie board. We grinned at each other and he said, “It’s lovely out here, isn’t it?” to which I replied, “It really is. And it’s easy just…to be.” He smiled wide and I knew that he knew what I meant. He had an immense, colorful tattoo on his back, about which I enquired. He explained that he had been to Japan a few times and loved to meditate in their gardens, so over time he’d had a similar scene engraved on his body: soothing waterfalls, Japanese maples, ponds, trees…everything he would wish for in a place for meditation. I remarked that it was like having his inside on the outside, and he liked the comparison. We chatted for some time, not realizing that we had drifted far from our meeting point, and past the red flag near the rocks, so we laughed and paddled back to where we started, and continued chatting. About yoga, and hotels, and family, and work, until we discovered we’d drifted again. We parted ways at that point; I had to swim back to the sightline for my husband and he had to go find his family. I asked his name; he said it was Dave. I told him mine and as naturally as can be, I said “Namaste”. He put his hands together and Namaste’d in return.
The next day, I was driving with the windows open in the car because it was cool enough outside. Strands of my hair whipped this way and that, and I had to squint a lot to protect my eyes from both wind and hair. It reminded me of the forces of nature; the ocean, at once giving you enough grace to hold yourself afloat but at the same time, moving you far where you thought you were. The wind, giving you the power to hold yourself steady, yet able to push you around at the same time. The forces of fate; meeting people, kindred souls, not so kindred souls, whoever, wherever, whenever, and for undetermined (or is it pre-determined?) lengths of time.
I met Dave for maybe ten minutes, and unless there are plans previously established before our lives on Earth, it’s unlikely that I’ll see him again. But I won’t ever forget him. Just as I will never forget the elderly lady at the grocery store two months ago who happily informed me of the differences between jams, jellies and preserves (Truth be told, I already knew, but wanted to connect with her because I was feeling particularly friendly that day). I won’t forget the woman with the white hat at table 15, years ago; who was so angry about waiting for her lunch that she insulted me, and thought her salad was puny. Or the waistcoated gentleman at table 13, who on our opening night scored a free meal because he was under the (mistaken) impression that his risotto had wild rice in it instead of Arborio. I will remember the father many weeks ago, showing his teenage daughter how to pump gas. She thought it was funny; he was trying to impress on her the importance of the task. We made eye contact and in a split second, I understood his frustration and showed him that I empathized.
We shouldn’t forget the boyfriends, the old friends, the neighbors, or the random people. It would behoove us to remember not just the people who showed care and respect for us, but also the people who treated us terribly, who were rude, or hurtful, or broke our hearts.
Or is it just me? Am I the only one who thinks about this stuff? What capacity we have to hold all these memories! In some way, some small or big way, every one of these people created a spark, a connection. And in some way, it taught us something, showed us something, or maybe just helped to keep us buoyed during a day. I honor all of them.
(Of course, this also applies to people online whom I shall probably never meet in person.)