Recently I’ve been gurgling with a lung infection. Subsequently my inner Eeyore’s been running amok.
Then someone close to my family made a suggestion.
“Go to the beach.” Said Grace.
“It’s too cold.” I said. Inwardly thinking what I really mean is that it’s too far and I’m too lazy.
“It’ll be good for your lungs. Go.”
At this point I did what any noble mother would do: I blamed my daughter.
“She doesn’t even want to go!”
Now the thing with Grace is that she has a way that sees through all the bullshit and so 20minutes later Little Human, the 3 dogs and I were on our way to the beach.
When we get to the entrance of the beach I’m grumbling and gurgling because you have to pay £6.50 to get in and oh my god that’s so expensive and so I need to reverse because I only have £2 change on me and I’ve lost my credit card for the 99th time this year. And I’m at my grumbliest and gurgliest and I’m wondering where we’re going to park.
Poor lungs. Poor me, bemoans my inner Eeoyre.
And then I see an office near the entrance and I go in and ask for change for a fiver and the lady says:
“But the machine accepts notes.”
So I get back in the car where Piglet one of the dogs is beside herself with excitement as she gets a whiff of the sea air. This is heartening.
Then as we drive though the gate towards the car park, Little Human calls out as she jabs her finger and arm to what lies ahead:
“The sea mama! Look! Look! You can see the sea!” her whole body alive with excitement.
My inner Eeyore walks away.
And we get out of the car and before I can put a coat or anything remotely warm on my daughter, she’s pelting across the sand with Piglet not far behind her. Her little arms circling like a sprinter's, as she runs as fast as her body can move her. And I imagine her face: pure focus. She suddenly stops, stands and turns and calls: “Come on mama!” and then turns and runs like a horse set free.
A smile in my heart slips out unnoticed and finds its way to my face. It doesn’t leave for the remainder of our trip.
And so we come to a spot and start digging a sandcastle and the dogs dig beside us and even Badger, the most Eeyorish and anxious of canines is mucking in and he grins up at me in that goofish, surprised way of his that oozes good and sweetness and says something along the lines of: sometimes, sometimes life is good.
Aeroplanes roam overhead.
“On holiday!” Little Human cries.
“Yes.” I say. Or at least I think I say, because sometimes the vocabulary of us parents doesn’t need to amount to much. And I oscillate between movement and stillness. Watching Little Human and taking in the colours around us and then then mucking in when needed; my whole being rolling with delight.
Each activity lasts for a short while. It starts, it pulls my daughter in and then she’s off to something else. Next we play hide and seek and I throw myself onto the sand dunes with great delight. There is a lovely joy in really laughing with your child. Then as Little Human climbs mountains of sand hills, I write on my phone after which we draw pictures in the sand. Little Human with her toes, me with my fingers. We draw waves and letters and numbers. Because letters and numbers are where Little Human’s fascination is calling.
“It’s a one!” She calls out, chest swelling with pride that she’s recognised this number out here on the beach. And I watch my daughter’s unabashed love of learning. It’s not that one is followed by two, but that right now, she is recognising the shape of a one and seeing them everywhere and that for her, this is her world coming together. It’s all starting to make sense. What a trip then we get old and a bit more crinkled around the eyes to discover that life is not what it seems after all!
And we throw pebbles for the dogs, who after a while even seem content to hang around. Which is rare for Piglet who normally pummels you with yaps to throw more stones and balls and anything vaguely aerodynamic for her to run after and retrieve. Today she is uncharacteristically Zen.
At some point, clothes are taken off; sadly they’re not mine. And I watch as Little Human runs around partially naked with her t-shirt on. The responsible mother in me is most uncomfortable. What will people think! Put her clothes on for God’s sake! She’ll get a cold. And the other mother, who I’m not sure is necessarily irresponsible, it’s just that moments like this win her over, says her joy will warm her heart, let her be, just a little while longer.
So I’m watching Little Human scattered with sand, a beam on her face and engrossed in what she’s doing. And my myness slips away. It’s not Laura looking at Evie, it’s the macro magnetized so that a moment sinks into itself. Moments like this, when everything comes together offer us a chance to forget ourselves. And so our awareness of ourselves as a separate autonomous self slips away and instead there is this perfect moment of watching and seeing. Although of course to have a sense of yourself as an autonomous separate being is also exquisitely awesome! But for now the clarity of something luminous taking place wins over the normally fixed way with which I view my life. I am grateful for it.
And I see this: my daughter, Little Human, in her element. And I am thinking maybe I want to do this more often. Because I’m lazy and well the beach is far and urr do I really have to go. But you know; some distances are worth it.
"Lets go to the water mama!" My daughter calls and my first reaction is a oh Christ, really? And then an Oh come on! You may even enjoy it... So we all make our way to the water. Little Human and the dogs wade in, with she jumping over the waves coming in and me crouching down.
“I think the water is coming in mama.” And this kind of astounds me. When and how does the concept of tides come in? And as Little Human frolics in the water, my gaze drifts to the landscape around us. There’s something about the moodiness of the British beach with it’s grey’s and milky blues. As a teenager I would come to this beach where my grand-mother’s house is and walk by the sea and feel that melancholic twist that lingers in the pit of the solar plexus. I am fascinated by the solar plexus. Partially because there seems to be a whole damn solar system there in the middle of our chests. One that constantly undulates, pulsates and communicates whole worlds just waiting to be explored. My toe just skimming the surface.
And I watch the movement and motion of my daughter. The way it calls to her and I feel our seperateness. And I see how so much in my life is geared towards that stillness that turns me on. Because there’s something about stillness. So that the way of the child is to leap and explore and then somewhere along the way, internal explorations pull our attention inwards. I think stillness maybe is the quality that both challenges and mystifies and electrifies me. Also the paradox of stillness – no moment can ever be so still that a whisp of motion cannot be detected.
The Sufi’s found their stillness in dance. they would dance and twirl and swirl. Because even when you are in the rush and the rapids, stillness can be found. But I’m not there yet. And maybe I never will be. For now though, it’s the stillness that I crave and love and where if I get to touch into, I remember a way as a child that I forgot when becoming an adult. Times like this, it’s easier to remember.
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