It was the first time I’d ever had sand between my toes that wasn’t filled with tiny sharp rocks that had caused me to have disdain for the beach. It was gorgeous. The sand was not white. It was not brown. It was not yellow. It was blond. The way my hair looks in the middle of the summer months, the scorching sun’s rays reflecting its face in each lock, each crystal of sand. It lay so perfectly that it conformed to every step of my foot and every curve of my back.
I could have slept for days if there had been no where else for me to go. But to keep my eyes closed would have been a sin. An ocean so cerulean blue my eyes could hardly take it all in. An ocean so clear that even from the lowest part of the ground you could see where the finite shallow world of sand ended and the everlasting bottomless deep began. I wondered about that world. About the life so deep in the earth that no human has ever laid eyes on it. Would living in that world feel free? Free from time and space that confined me to that small piece of paradise in those fleeting moments. But that world is dark and vicious. A waste land of prey hiding under rocks, buried in the earth. That was already a world I knew.
I forced those thoughts to escape me so I could bask in the sunlight and the warm bay waters. I took in the smell which pierced the nostrils. Had I not an awareness of my surroundings, I would have been fooled into thinking I was surrounded by thousands of pomegranate shrubs and Hibiscus flowers. The view of the surrounding vegetation was magnificent. Every shade of green imaginable surrounded the waters, the land hugging the sea. Olive, lime, teal, forest, apple, mint, jungle. It was all there gripping the blue expanse as if it too was trying to hold on to its little piece of paradise for as long as it could. It gave a new meaning to the phrase plant life. Every so often a color not within the green palette would burst forth, an explosion of red, pink, or orange as if exclaiming Costa Rican independence.
Freedom, independence. This thought would not leave my mind. In that precious breath of steam that I spent on that beach was but a reminder that I did not feel free myself. I watched it. I examined it from a point of view that I may never get to experience again, but I felt trapped. Not just by time and space. I felt trapped by my own insecurities. I was in the company of sunbathers and swimmers, some of whom I knew, some who may not have been able to appreciate the sight that was before. Though with my appreciation, the inclination my mind clung to was that I was the undeserving one. I sat in the ocean waves experiencing the ocean’s freedom, but I couldn’t help but feel out of place in it all. Alone. I felt as though I sat in the orchestra at a grand symphony, so close I could nearly feel the swell of air from the bassoon. But the company with whom I came, along with the rest of the audience, was sitting in the Mezzanene. There was no way to escape the familiarity of this feeling, even thousands of miles from home. I was stuck in the mud of my thoughts which blinded me to the goodness of my own heart, and to the experience which had been laid before me.
That moment is rekindled in my mind over and over again. It was a time that could have been magical, and I allowed a dark sadness to sweep over me. Though I have often in my memory chosen to acknowledge this account as purely paradise, I know deep within that this is not so. As I’ve grown into adulthood I know this more than ever. Perhaps it is because to call myself a different person than I was then would be quite an understatement. I never knew then the joy I know now or allowed myself to acquaint with peace. Those are simply traits that define me now. Or perhaps I have always hoped for the chance to know this paradise again. Without regret. To go back and to not just observe freedom, but experience freedom. Someday.
For I know that the LORD is great
And that our Lord is above all gods.
Whatever the LORD pleases, He does,
In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.
Psalm 135: 5-6