Lasting Impressions


On Anglin’s Fishing Pier, in LBTS as the town terms itself to save paint on the street signs, tame pelicans lord it over all and try to pick up tidbits from the gawking tourists.  They haven’t caught on to the money to be made from posing.  The pier’s private owner has, so there is a $2 per person charge for entrance.  It must be admitted that this is a very nice pier, long and well maintained, picturesque, and with the pelicans and almost as amusing the tourists, certainly worth the cost for entertainment value alone.

We enter our final week before heading back to Huntington normal.  It may be a little hard to get up to speed after what has been essentially a month of what they claim is the goal of meditation.  No thoughts, empty mind, days slipping by.  Or, if you prefer, Margueritaville.   No worries.  Just letting more days pass, happily in ourselves and the beauty of a warm sunlit place.

Beginning the real season now.  Almost an impressionist painting in the center of town, colors and people and drinks all over.  Never-never land, and like all fantasies it is probably best to just give in and go along with the dream.  Reality will return soon enough.

Reality is a bit more amorphous for me, now that I am retired.  There used to be a clear division of things I hated to do, or things I didn’t want to do at particular times and at the whims of others.  For me, that was reality, and I tried to fit my own world around it as best I could.  Now everything and everytime is my own, and I am only gradually (but very happily) adjusting to that fact.

Another sunrise.  Facing the Atlantic over the beach makes the early morning a defining feature, which eventually brings home the inevitability of truly big events.  King Canute could not forbid the tides, nobody can declare the Earth should stop turning, power has limits.  Individuals can hide from the sunlight, or use air conditioning to mitigate its effects, or ignore it, but day follows night regardless.

That is not unlike all those clamoring voices clamoring that by merely following their advice and paying for their predictions, I can avoid known catastrophe.  I can double money entrusted to their care; I can prevent aging and death by purchasing their juices or magic elixirs or potent pills; I can guarantee happiness and prosperity to my offspring (or myself) by following the advice in their book.  But the sun rises anyway.  Finances rise and fall.  Aging occurs.  All life dies.  My offspring (and myself) will, like all humans, endure our share of comedy and tragedy and glory, regardless.

Humans frolicking in herds on the beach, relatively free of cares and worries.  They were evolved for this planet, and in spite of all the world’s and their own troubles, they still fit into it perfectly and enjoy its enchanted majesty if they give themselves half a chance.  That is what vacations are truly for.

Global worries abound _ catastrophes, long-term deterioration, elimination of species, pollution, population, disease, hunger.  Local worries abound _ storms, climate, crime, society.  Personal worries abound _ finances, career, health, mortality, control.  Yet even now, in the larger picture, the days are beautiful, wonders are everywhere, and I can rest content with life, imperfect as it may sometimes seem.

In spite of almost total redevelopment of every inch of ground on this barrier island, a few creatures remain to enchant us.  Pelicans, porpoises, parrots and people, amidst the palms, shells and assorted other vegetable and animal species.  Including these delightful tiny ubiquitous lizards that scatter from their sunning to hide under hedges as giants stride by.

I hope that it is not too late for our species to achieve social and technological maturity to preserve many of these wonders.  Our immense growth spurt has placed things on a knife edge _ some days I am extremely hopeful, others despondent.  Time _ which I do not have _ will tell, but today _ the time which I do have _ can be spent appreciating all that remains.  Thankfully, an awful lot does remain.

Into every life some rain must fall.  Sunny south Florida during February this year has been mostly not raining, although clouds and wind were often abundant.  In an interconnected world, the true variations of local climates can be forgotten, but they remain as powerful and strong as always.  Today a few strong showers will sweep through off and on, nothing like the Northeasters to be encountered further up the coast.

So a lasting remembrance of this long vacation is dry days, warming cool days, at least some sunshine always due soon.  It is probably most people’s vision of this place, and surely the one promoted by tourist guides, and fairly accurate at this time of year.  Stubbornly, I cling to the idea that seasons are wonderful and I like the procession of life and storm, even through snow and cold.  But even I am forced to admit that I would not miss February in Huntington at all.

Final lasting memories are of ceaseless surf and happy people.  The ocean does what it has done for billions of years and will do for billions more, life or no life.  People flicker by without registering in the geologic time scale, but each is filled with infinite moments and experiences.  At this time and place, everyone was relaxed and joyful and purely enjoying a fine time, mostly heedless of worries and cares.

That is reality also.  We focus on the malcontents and badly adjusted and psychopathic and tortured, which fill our news and haunt our dreams.  But most of us, here and now, do not live amidst such aberrations.  Most of us, our friends, our families, our communities, are positive and grateful for the chance to be who we are.  This vacation has helped me remember that, and to put all my roiling thoughts into perspective.



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