Sunday morning, as I watched the rain fall and took in the beauty of Gulf waters while enjoying my morning coffee, I began to contemplate the passage of time.
I was in Sandestin to work a convention for a few days, and the timing of the summer meeting had aligned perfectly with everyone’s schedules to allow the entire family to make the trip down with me. It was a rare gift to be sitting there on vacation with all of our family under one roof.
It had been eleven years since the four of us had been to the beach together. I know that because G sent a picture that had popped up on her photos timeline from the same timeframe in 2010. Where did the time go?
I joked as we left out Saturday morning about the kids starting a Shrek video in the back to pass the time as we drove, something they had done during numerous trips when they were younger. Technological advancement helped provide the timestamp of those years in my mind as I remembered the progression from VCR tape to DVD to Blu-ray disc to streaming media.
When it comes to vacations, I’ve always been more of a mountain person than a beach person in terms of my ideal destination. I attribute that, in part, to being a child of the ’70s, an era when tanning was much more of a priority than skin protection — think tanning oil versus sunscreen.
As a result, my trips to the beach or the lake while growing up often resulted in painful sunburns and were less than idyllic; however, I still love the smell of Hawaiian Tropic Tanning Oil. That coconut oil scent is forever “burned” into my mind as a smell synonymous with the beach.
All jokes aside, I do have a lot of great beach memories, and there are qualities about a beach vacation that I love. In fact, something G said while we were enjoying our coffee, tea and conversations with our now adult children reminded me of one of my favorite aspects about beach vacation: decompression.
“It usually takes about a day to decompress from our busy schedules and relax,” she said. That relaxation struck me as the No. 1 thing that I love about being at the beach.
Going back to that earlier discussion about sunburn, I have learned that with my fair skin the beach umbrella is my best friend while enjoying the sand and surf. The perfect day at the beach for me involves a comfortable chair underneath said umbrella with a book in hand, yacht rock on the radio, a cooler within reach and my family surrounding me.
I will relax throughout the day doing some people watching and losing myself in the reality that I don’t have to be anywhere at any certain time. Watches are optional at the beach, and in terms of decompression, that is vital for me.
“Beach time” for me always feels like summer break as a child. Time seemed to move slowly then. Time flying by is certainly a product of getting older because, thinking back, I remember how the elementary school year seemed to last forever and a day. It felt like summer would never arrive, but when it did, it was marvelous.
My school was an attendance center. For you city folk, that means that K-12 were all housed in one location. You started at one end of the building and finished at the other, and looking up that long hall from the elementary school, it seemed that eons would pass before I was a senior in high school.
Now, weeks seem like days and days like minutes. However, at the beach, the speed of time seems to slow down, at least for a while. Sitting in the sand and watching the ocean, I’m able to forget the fact that there never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything accomplished.
Beach time is a beautiful escape from that reality; it is therapeutic. I’ve postulated before that the outdoors is medicine, and each time that I am “out there” no matter where “out there” is, I find that theory to be true.
It has probably become apparent to those of you that read my column that I love music. Song lyrics often play into my articles either as an introduction or, in the case of today’s article, a conclusion. I came across this lyric last week while listening to the new album from Leftover Salmon, and it seemed quite fitting for this discussion of time.
From the title track of “Brand New Good Old Days” come these words:
“These days I don’t think about tomorrow
‘Cause the time just can’t be borrowed
and tomorrow just turned to yesterday...”
That seems like great advice to me. Until next time, take it minute by minute, day by day, and I look forward to seeing you out there in our great outdoors.
Email outdoors columnist Brad Dye at email@example.com.