We have continued to have knock-out beautiful days on the Oregon Coast this week, but rain also crept back into the picture, reminding us of the climate we live in. There seems to be a little more balance in the world these days. It’s not all one thing or the other. I know this is all perception. The weather seems this way, because there has been a balance swing in my life. I’ve spent most of my time home with my family, which has not been the case for the most part for a long while. I feel more rested, though I’m not really getting any more sleep. I’ve caught up on this blog. I’ve been praying more regularly. I’ve been running more. I’ve felt more emotionally available, like I’m understanding my own emotions better. This allows you to hold the sunshine and the rain in both hands, to find joy in each.
With the return of this fairer summer weather, I’ve worked harder to get out on the beach, especially to catch the sunset. When I first moved to the Oregon Coast this became a daily ritual for me, and it’s something I’d like to bring back into the rotation. There is something spiritual to me about watching the day pass to night. Living on the PacificCoast allows me to watch the sun leave the continent. It reminds me the cycle of a day, how the sun will leave us then return as the next day begins. I think of how I only have a finite number of these sunsets, and it encourages me to be present with them and love them for what they are.
I taken several long walks on the beach with my newborn daughter strapped to my chest. She’s had probably her most difficult week of her short life, surviving a day of stomach trouble. We went walking along the ocean one particular day for several hours, nearly all the way to Rockaway Beach. I found myself conversing with her, talking about situations I’m anxious over and trying to help relate those problems to hers too. To try to talk through this idea to not get too bogged down in something short term, to step back and look at the big picture. I talked about how I’m more prone to get stressed by an accumulation of tasks or problems, but how I am capable of dealing with them in their time. That I should ask myself, “What will happen if this doesn’t get done today?,” assuming the answer will normally be, “I’ll just get to it the next day or the next.”
This brought me to what was currently right in front of my face: The big beautiful, dark blue Pacific Ocean ebbing and flowing over my feet. The warm sunny air that just pulls a body outside. My daughter warm against my chest, clutching my shirt with one hand and my thumb with her other hand. I told her that I knew her stomach was feeling bad and I was sorry. I told her it wouldn’t last forever. That we loved her very much, and that we were going to take care of her. I told her that she gets to live next to the ocean and will be able to go to it whenever she wants. That she doesn’t know it, but a lot of people don’t get to live next to the ocean. That we are fortunate and should love it. I, of course, was talking to myself more than I was talking to her.
Summer Staff Orientation began at the end of the week for camp, and I made myself present enough to welcome the staff as they came in. I’m still on paternity leave for another week, but I wanted to welcome them in as friends and family. I want to introduce myself and introduce the new staff to the veterans. As we talked in a circle in the living room, I felt some of that good energy that comes from being a camp staff. There are jokes, there’s the catch up on life event questions, and there’s just an intangible warmth in looking around a circle to the faces of these wonderful people you know you will share incredible experiences with. Good or bad, we will be tied to these people because of what we experience in the coming months. I walked home in the dark to find my little girl, ready to spend time with me on the night shift. There will be some sort of schedule like this for months to come. I will have this camp experience with wonderful people. I will walk home under the spruce, pines, and cedars with the sounds of the Pacific in the background. I will enter the door and greet Aura with a kiss on the forehead, and I will shift into a different type of passion and connection that’s the same and different.
My brother in law Andrew has been going through lifeguard training and needed help practicing in the pool, so I went with him to the Tillamook YMCA. I went over rescue techniques, entries, strokes, and how to get away from a drowning victim who is inadvertently trying to drown you. This was the first time I’ve swam in quite some time, and it felt good to get back in the water. I felt my body moving fluidly, twisting, flipping, gliding through the water. Swimming can be an activity that really helps you get in touch with your body. I love to give attention to the motions all of my body parts are making as I swim or tread. I’ve been teaching or helping teach lifesaving in the water for many years, and it is such an exercise in growing comfortable in water. It’s about getting in touch with your breathing, how you move your legs and arms, how those motions affect your movement. We are not always so in touch with ourselves and the results of our actions. The water has a graceful way of telling you if you are listening to it.
It hit me this week that the time of my leave is dwindling. I knew this time would turn over quickly. I am not afraid of going back, but I am trying to prepare myself to return refreshed. I know it is not sustainable for a worker to spend more day dreading work than finding joy in it, and I want to go back excited for work, holding that right next to the excitement for teaching my daughter, watching her grow. I don’t want my perception of my work day to be an unending mass of work I can’t ever possibly complete. I want to see it as continuous progression of opportunities to do something wonderful, to change someone’s day. I am working on my headspace to return to when I felt that way more regularly.
One day this week, I got out just in time to see the sun disappear over the horizon. Another day completed. I stood in the surf, letting the ocean come up over my feet. Just before going back to the house, I picked up a stick and began writing a prayer in the sand. I knew the tide would soon be in to erase it, if the wind hadn’t already done the work. I did it knowing there was an impermanence to it. Just like the day that had just finished, disappearing into the ocean, the prayer would not be visible the next day when I went out onto the beach. That doesn’t make the doing or the speaking it unimportant. We can make predictions about where all these things will go. We can be pessimistic or optimistic. We can worry or we can say, “who gives a damn?” I have found myself doing both at different points recently. In this time, I’m finding myself being drawn to seek to live these days, these prayers out the best I can moment by moment. To be there, to be the best version of myself. To let the sand then fall where it may. I will be there to touch it, to know and remember what it feels like.