Having recently returned from a long weekend adventure to the beach I've concluded that early mornings, alone on the sand, aren't just great for meditating, reading or watching the sun come up, but rather it's the finest hour for people watching.
I traveled as part of a bachelorette party. There were 11 of us in total and 10 of us flew from Knoxville, Tennessee to Destin, Florida to enjoy some girl time before the bride and groom get hitched.
You hear a lot about people watching in airports. It is indeed, an opportune place for that. I usually fly alone and appreciate all the excitement and wonder an airport has to offer. I even experienced a bit of this over the weekend when we arrived early to the airport and then again when a traffic jam set our chauffeur behind schedule.
But it was sometime between the hours of 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. on Friday morning with sand between my toes, hues of pink and orange flirting with a blue sky and splashes of water threatening my camp I determined, where the ocean meets the sky, people watching is best.
I jotted down to the beach at 6 a.m. Friday. I thought I'd find solitude away from both the 10 women I was traveling with and the hustle of vacationers. I'd planned on consuming a bottle of water, relaxing and finishing my Bob Goff book. Goff writes a lot about airports and I can't help but think he's inspired my airport awareness.
I read a few pages and noticed a man to my right in the ocean. The water was up to his waist and he was fishing. This was intriguing, especially being a short gal, who thinks she needs a life jacket in ankle deep water.
I read a few more pages, watched some women (who appeared to be walking for exercise) pick up garbage as they went. It was then I realized the isolation I was seeking was out of question.
I didn't mind. There was a calm about the company of which was coming and going all around me. Almost a slow motion of it.
Next I watched a woman dressed in all black, pass by on her morning run, only she ran like me, so it was more like a trot. I instantly thought I'd found my running partner.
By 7 a.m. the population on the beach had tripled. A woman buzzed by talking on a speaker phone. I wondered to who.
And then, and not that I'm complaining, there were two buff young men closing in around me as they set up chairs and umbrellas for the day's beachgoers. They were running around fast as if they were on a deadline. Normally how my brain pictures itself near the three o'clock hour hoping I might actually get to leave by five.
There was a bird wandering around the beach and it reminded me of some Bible verse that said if God will take care of the birds surely he has us humans too. Quite a paraphrase I know.
As I sat there, with my Bob Goff book in hand, and miles in front of me the ocean meets the sky, and I can't help but think how small all my worries are. I go back to the little bird, me and the big God, the universe or whatever you like to call it. I was calmed and thankful even with the intrusion.
A trip to the beach for solitude and stillness only reminded me that in the hustle of it all, not much -- at least not the small hills I often create into mountains -- matters and I'm taken care of.
I was about to head back up to the condo and indulge in some homemade chocolate gravy when a girl a little younger than me who looked like she might have been running stopped almost in front of me. She looked for and found a shell and began to write something in the sand. She wrote it and walked away. I was dying to go look at it. I made sure she wasn't looking and I walked over and read the note in the sand: "I be lovin' ye with all my heart."
I was beside myself. What did that mean. Who was that note for? Her lover? Had someone passed away and was it meant for them? I would never know. I almost felt like I'd intruded in her moment by reading it.
But standing there wondering about a note in the sand my thoughts were washed away as a young couple with a baby asked me to take their photo. I accepted and snapped a beautiful family photo I hoped would hang on a refrigerator or a fireplace mantle somewhere. As they pointed out the storm clouds rolling in, I figured my time alone (or not so alone) on the sand was up.
I was thankful, even in the chaos, for moments where the ocean meets the sky.