In a Beach Town on Business

The sea is infinite, for the intents and purposes of the individual. Thus it represents to the individual the infinite, but also an accessible infinity, more tangible than the infinity of time, more relatable than the infinities between the distant stars. Standing on the edge of the sea and looking to the horizon is, to me, the most immediate way to call into question everything – the loudest silent crying of the insurmountable “So?”

It’s interesting to see what people do while standing on the edge of the world. Most seem not to notice; though I suppose if you saw me looking out over the waves, you wouldn’t necessarily think, “Hey, that guy seems to be overtaken by the notion that all human meaning is as ephemeral as the glinting of sunlight across a waning tide,” you’d just see a long-haired shirtless dude sitting particularly still. Other people, productive people, would be jogging along on the more solid sand closer to the foam. Kids would feel the need to write something with sticks or fingers, and a surprising number of them, for apparent lack of inspiration, would choose to write their own name. People of all ages would draw hearts.

I saw four such hearts this morning. One was high up on the sand, but still beneath the high tide line. One was dangerously close to having its tip washed away, and one was already half forgotten. These three were close enough to each other to be captured in a single cheesy photograph, which I took, even though the metaphor was so trite that even its triteness tasted cliche.

The fourth was in the process of being drawn – no, of being laid out in seashells – by three adults, one male and two female. They were dancing about happily, shifting the shells around and taking photographs in different positions and combinations. It made me smile and wish I could capture all four hearts in one frame, but my lens wasn’t big enough to bring them all into a single story.

I looked back out towards the horizon and reconsidered my career some more. I wondered what percentage of people’s lives were spent somewhere between “maybe” and “probably.” I pondered the meaning of “utility.” I meditated on a few candidates for the list of things irrefutably “worthwhile,” which, for some reason, caused me to look back towards our three adults and their merry picture taking-

-and I saw that they had packed up their shells and were walking farther down the beach, side by side, still laughing, having quite a good time, just the three of them and their mobile seashell heart. And flip-flops.


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