It is 6:00 in the morning. A glaze keeps covering my eyes every few times I blink. I guess they haven’t woken up either. We just drove past Robin Williams’ house and now we’ve turned into the parking lot of China Beach. Of all the sites in San Francisco, this place is the one I find the most beautiful. Its natural beauty cannot compare to Golden Gate beach, less than a mile away, but this beach possesses the virtue of solitude.
This morning is no exception. There is no one here. The parking lot is empty. We step out of the car and look down on the beach and then out into the abyss of the Pacific Ocean. The cold crisp air of the morning and the fog that hides the miles of seemingly endless sea create an effect that leaves one feeling half asleep and half awake. Upon reaching the sand, I take a huge breath. The smells of salt water and sea life fill my senses. The air is thick and wet.
The cloudless sky appears as sheer lace, hiding the deep blue behind it. A red glow from the rising sun casts itself over the water and the lace above. Behind the sea of fog, purple and orange shine over the top of the moving waves. The sounds of bird chirps can be heard coming from no particular location, but all of them seem to proclaim a message of welcome to the upcoming day. The birds swoop to and fro above the waves, possibly searching for their early morning breakfast. In a few hours, the bay area will be filled with boats, but for now it is empty. All that can be heard is the sound of the ocean winds rushing past ones ears and the crashing waves of the mass ahead.
Making my way over to the giant rocks sitting on the shore, I reach out and touch some of the mussels that cover the hundreds of square feet of cliff and rock that protect the houses above from the water. The shells are hard and smooth. Climbing to the top of a nearby boulder, I look northeastward. My eyes take in the beauty of the Golden Gate Bridge. Even behind the dense fog, the red paint comes through bright as day. Every time I see it, I still find that it is something to be marveled.
The ocean that surrounds me seems to call to me. I slip out of my clothes. In 50 degree weather, I find myself in my boxers running toward the water. It runs up the shore and covers my feet. The cold comes as a shock to my system, and I hesitate for a moment. Then I remember the value of a memory. With my arms out and flaring like a plane preparing for take-off, I meet the first wave with full force. The cold overloads my senses and burns my skin. I lift my feet out from underneath myself, and fall into the cold. I come up and out of the water with a smile, screaming. In these moments, I drink in life with all its joy and pain. Life is this cold water.
As we ate breakfast and watched the sun rise, a gentle calm came over my spirit. All the trials and pains of life suddenly became trivial and much less confusing. The glaze of subtle discontentment in my life seemed to be lifted. A reminder was given that life is to be loved, not feared. I swallowed life, but I did not eat it quickly. I took my time and savored every moment, each for its individual beauty, each fulfilling its potential.
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