Stephanie Spitler
July 10, 2012 8:00 am

Sometimes I just need to slow down and catch my breath. I need to let go of all the stress that has slowly built and built inside me, day after tedious day. Luckily, I can fix whatever ails me and bring myself back just by closing my eyes and lying on some sand. The beach is escapism in all it’s forms: contemplative, thrill seeking, fun.

The beach is another world. It’s cheap flip-flops and hopping, skipping and jumping across scalding sand. It’s the sound of radios and soda cans popping open; it’s umbrella shade and blinding sun; rainbow-colored beach towels and salty, wavy hair. It’s bikinis and board shorts and everything in between. It’s oversized sunglasses and floppy straw hats. Sometimes it’s the boardwalk, with carnival games and ferris wheels and airbrushed everything. Sometimes it’s a lone sailboat on the horizon, with nothing else but sand and sea for miles.

Even though most of these images conjure up thoughts of summertime, the beach transcends seasons. The shore has magic all year long. You can stroll along with jeans cuffed, toes sinking into cool powdery sand, searching for shells in the autumn. Watch rare snowflakes mixing in a neutral palette of steel-blue seas and winter-gray skies. Wrap yourself in a jacket and watch the water, the promise of summer heat in hints on the springtime breeze.

I didn’t grow up in a beach town, so going to the shore was always a treat for me. It was all about saltwater taffy and soft serve ice cream cones and French fries in deep paper cups. It was special, like going out for breakfast on a random Wednesday; not something I could do every day. My favorite feeling in the world is still driving home after a day by the water, skin warm from the sun and smelling like sunscreen and salt, with grains of sand sticking to the back of my legs and the sides of my feet.

Now that I live closer to water, it’s still a treat. Whether it’s an hour spent watching the water or a full-day staycation with all the paraphernalia, I still get the same feeling. It’s where I go when the stress and routine and worry that comes with everyday life just gets to be too much. It’s where I go to be still and just listen, to the water and to myself. It’s where I can best hear that little voice inside that tells me to close my eyes, breathe, and relax. The water and the seagulls and the laughing children splashing on the shore combine into a soothing symphony, and the waves carry my stress out to sea.

It’s where I regain my faith and recharge my batteries. It inspired one of my favorite poems, Exiled by Edna St. Vincent Millay:

Searching my heart for its true sorrow,

this is the thing I find it to be,

that I am weary of words and people            ,

sick of the city, wanting the sea…

Exactly, Edna. Exactly.

Why do you love the beach?

(Image via Shutterstock)

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