It is early in the morning when I rise. The light of day has yet to grace this side of the earth with its presence. No longer do I need my alarm; my very instinct, something deep within, tells me when it is time to awake. Gathering my surfboard, a swimsuit, and other necessary equipment, I step outside and pause at the bottom of the stairs. Listening intently, I realize that the shouts from the amusement parks have not started, and the noise of civilization has yet to arrive. Everything is virtually silent save the waves crashing in a location just beyond my view and the summer gulls trying to collect their food for the day.
I smile and begin to walk. Up ahead, the boardwalk comes into view, and memories abound within me from childhood summers spent on that walk: bike rides I’ve shared with my family, trips up to the shop in the evenings for ice cream, chasing seagulls and even learning how to fly a kite. This boardwalk defines my past, each individual board somehow tells a part of my life story. As I make my way up the steps and onto the worn, splintering boards, I look down both lengths. The numerous stores that line the expanse are closed. Their lights, once welcoming and bright are off, as if they need a rest themselves. As I make my way across and finally off of the wooded walkway, the undeniable and easily recognized smell of the beach, a combination of salt and seaweed, overwhelms me. I pass through the dunes, covered with ocean grass and the most beautifully natural sight greets me.
“Tranquil,” I think to myself. If any word could possibly be fitting enough to describe the sight before my very eyes, tranquil would be the word. It might even be something beyond that, to some it could even be considered spiritual. It is a beauty recognized or at least acknowledged by the common person, but only truly appreciated by those like me.
We’re more than surfers. Our love of the single sport that binds us is built less on our own skill than by the secret we share, that the ocean is mystical. It heals inner wounds that nothing else can and is capable of consuming your very soul. Respect for the ocean, the result of the driving force of nature and our communion with it, define who we are.
As I sit on the sand, still cool from the previous night, with my board by my feet, I realize beyond a doubt that I am the luckiest person on the planet. The waves are breaking in perfect sets of four, some splashing into the jetties, while others make their way to greet me on the shore. I take a moment to close my eyes, and everything is free and completely at rest. Like the pieces of even the most intricate puzzle, everything just fits.
Then it starts to happen. This is something I have been a witness to on countless occasions before, yet it still never ceases to amaze me and never will. The sun, the very light of the world, begins to make its appearance over the distant, ever-present yet mysterious horizon. It is almost as though a giant light switch has been flipped on as glorious rays of silken purples, radiant pinks and delicate blues shine bright. The sun’s likeness reflects off of the vast ocean waters in front of me, and, despite its blinding qualities, it is mesmerizing. I do not blink at all, for fear I will miss a single second of the sight that is far too beautiful for words: something beyond mere mortal comprehension.
Now, almost as quickly as it had begun, it fades away before ceasing. The moment in time connecting the opposites night and day is gone. The sky shines clear and blue and the coolness of the night before vanishes. The day has brought its life and night has been chased away under its vanishing horizon to bring darkness and mystery to the rest of the world, before making its return.
As I grab my board and head for the ocean, the wholeness of day and with it, reality returns. I face it with excitement, regardless of the unknowns because this one thing I know with certainty. Tomorrow, that marker in the space of time will return and once again I know I will be awed and captivated by a secret known only to those who fail to take it for granted and remain humbled by it.
An ocean sunrise, tranquility at its best.