Sun and Surf and the Meaning of It All, Except There Isn’t Any

by cathrynbauer

This is one of the tide pools at Asilomar Beach in Monterey County.   We took off yesterday to check out the Fort Ord Dunes State Park.  It was difficult to find.  What used to be Ford Ord is in the process of being decontaminated and stripped — there are still a lot of wrecked buildings on the property — and its map changes constantly.  We were unable to find directions that would reliably take us right to the park, but eventually found it by just going west and looking for the next unblocked road.  It is literally miles and miles of beach!  I think it’s actually four miles.  It was wonderful and very renewing to experience that much sun and space and tide.  Sadly, you can still see the sewage pipes sticking out of the cliffs toward the sea.  But the beach is healing itself with human help.  There are fenced-off habitat restoration areas.  We did wind up picking up two daypacks full of trash though, unfortunately, even though we only saw two people away from the entrance the entire time we were there.   Since a favorite restaurant, Peppers in Pacific Grove, wouldn’t be open for a while after we got back, we drove along the coast and ended up at Asilomar beach.  The sand was very white compared to the beige of the sand on the Fort Ord beach.  It was a much rockier coastline with fascinating tidepools like the one pictured above.

And the processing continued.  Our day trip was really the best thing that could have happened to me in my present situation.  I was depressed for a couple of hours thinking of what had happened to me and how it didn’t mean anything, didn’t accomplish anything, was not noble in any way.  It did not make the world a better place or even make me a better person than I could have been.  If anything, it made me worse.  There are any number of learned behavior patterns I have had to give up, and who’s to say I’m even aware of them all?  But I endure.  I am here, not them, with a loving spouse, work that I respect and take pride in, a beautiful home, and the wide, wide world.

I would say the only thing I really learned was to hear my own voice and to never, never fear or mistrust my own responses, particularly to make others’ lives easier.  I am so grateful for my own capacity to know that what was being done to me was wrong and to be angry at it.  That’s ultimately what saved me.  I’ve seen something in my work that underlines the importance of paying attention to your own reactions.  In my work in courtrooms and depo suites, I have seen how many individuals become crime victims because of their disregard of a funny feeling, their reluctance to think badly of a stranger even if they’re uneasy.  So, reader, I say unto you: Judge!  And if you are angry or mistrustful, pay attention.  It could save your life, at least figuratively speaking, the way it did mine.

Onward, ever onward.