Friends ask how’s your book coming along?
Slowly. My reason? Most days, my brain is too full of projects and problems of my day job. It’s a good job for a good cause. When it’s going well, I push creative boundaries and make things happen. My brain never shuts down because I’m thinking about what else I could do,
This week is my annual Maine beach week with my family. It’s post-Labor Day quiet in our little town. Even the soda fountain is closed for the season. Blissfully quiet.
Even at the height of summer, Ocean Park, Maine never approaches the loud crowds of most east coast beaches. It’s an unexpected oasis. Most years, I arrive with worries of the year packed like the provisions and beach towels in the back of the car.
As my right foot lands in the sand, months of work overload drain away, brain to heart to gut to soles. As my left foot lands, cushioned in the lingering summer warmth, I am aware of a still blue space inside my skin. The first day, I ran a check like one would run diagnostics on a car, trying to find a weak spot in the system. Looking for the crackling neurons and noise of the day. Still. Blue. Quiet.
More than anything, I’ve been yearning for that quiet. When I have the time, which is not every day, I meditate in the morning. I have to work at it. Cleansing breath. Quieting myself from top of head to toes, step by careful step. All the while, I push away invading thoughts that buzz like mosquitos, waiting to bite. My doctor has prescribed stress reduction and dammit, I’m trying to relax more.
I settle into a low beach chair, book in hand–Ann Patchett’s Magician’s Assistant. It has been on my nightstand for months, waiting to reveal itself. Beside me, one daughter is reading a history of Versailles and the other, The Lace Reader. We are a family of beach readers. Every few pages, I set the book down and focus on the waves. The blue space shimmers, a briny sapphire.
A seagull skims low under a mackerel sky. A haiku slips into my mind. I begin to count syllables and stop. The seagull is enough. The sky is enough.