The Magical Powers of the Beach

Updated: Oct 22, 2021




As summer comes to an end, I cannot help but think about all of the wonderful times I have spent on the beach. As a teenager, before I had my driver’s license, I would take the bus to the beach with some friends. This was always exciting—being on our own, independent, awaiting what adventures would find their way into our lives that day. As the bus would pull up in front of the Seal Beach pier so we could disembark, a thrill would engulf my entire body. Immediately I would be met by the smell only the beach could create: ocean, sand, seaweed, excitement. My friends and I would try to find a spot next to some cute boys, hopefully boys with a radio that played our favorite songs. The warmth of the sand under my feet gave me a feeling of being home. We would lay our towels out, get our Coppertone or Hawaiian Tropic suntan lotion, and spray the delicious coconut smell all over our bodies, hoping to get that perfect Hawaiian glow. After we had turned over a few times to even out our tans, we could hear the waves calling for us to come and join in. Grabbing our boogie boards, we would look over—hoping-- to see if the cute boys would follow us into the water. Airplanes pulling ads behind them, usually the Coppertone ad with the dog pulling down the girl’s bathing suit bottom, would fly overhead—what would a day on the beach be without the sound of those planes? Even today, when I hear a small plane flying overhead, I think of my early days at the beach and am instantly comforted. Once in the ocean, we would paddle out in the cold Pacific Ocean and wait for a good swell that would magically transport us back to shore. When a wave would come, it would lift us up and carry us at amazing speeds—I felt invincible! That rush of gliding in the cool ocean will never leave my memory; it was incredibly powerful. Nothing else mattered in that moment but being there right then, riding those waves in the ocean that so openly welcomed us to play.

When I was in my 20’s the beach became more of a place of solace for me. If a boy broke my heart, I would—without thinking—drive to the beach for comfort. Sitting on the sand, I would listen to the waves and watch the birds fly overhead. I knew that no troubles were more powerful than the beach; the beach was my protector, my friend. It would wash my sorrows away with each wave. The birds would fly overhead and let me know I would be okay. The sand supported my body in a loving way, the way Mother Earth is always there to love and support us if we allow her to.


Even as I got older, in my darkest times the beach was always there to console me. I would drive down to Oceanside Beach and walk along the pier, tears streaming down my face. I needed the comfort the beach and ocean knew how to provide, and they never abandoned me. I would watch the power of the ocean, the drive of the waves to make their way to the shore, only to be pulled back again; I could relate to this. For so much of my life, I felt as though I was struggling to make it to that shore only to have something or someone pull me back—it was a constant battle. But as I watched the waves, I noticed that they were not battling—they just went with the back and forth flow like it was natural. I wondered if that was the ocean’s secret weapon—being able to accept the back and forth of life without fighting it?




Today, I still love the beach; it still brings me peace. No matter what I have going on in my life, the beach helps me find my strength to get back on my feet. One of my favorite hikes is at Torrey Pines Beach in La Jolla. The ascent is near a paved road with pine trees and desert brush everywhere. It’s the only place I know of that has mountainous trees, desert life, and the beach all together—it’s beautiful! Once I make it down the beach path, I am greeted by hundreds of rocks in all colors—red, purple, blue, green, beige, yellow, and black. I am amazed at how smooth these rocks are—how long have they been here? What have they seen? Do they get washed into the ocean every day just to be planted once again on the sand during low tide? I think about what has brought them here to this place on this day, and I am grateful to be walking among such beauty. I hear them saying, “Take me home with you!” and so I do. I gather rocks of all colors and sizes and carry them the two mile walk back to my car. These rocks have become messengers of comfort and love. Although I never considered myself a creative person before, I have developed a talent of taking these rocks and painting messages of hope and encouragement upon them. I give them to people the Universe tells me needs them; I have made and sent one to a friend with cancer, another one who recently lost her sister, another friend who was having a rough patch, and the list goes on. I have even been commissioned to make some for my friends’ family members and others to give out at a memorial service. I have made several for my neighbor who lost both her husband and dog recently. I leave rocks around my college campus in hopes to brighten somebody’s day; yesterday I saw some of my students as I was leaving who told me excitedly, “Professor Winslow, we saw your rocks!!!” I am so grateful that I am able to pass on hope, love, encouragement, and compassion using rocks from a place so special to me. They hold the power of the beach and ocean within them, and they hold the love I have used to create my messages on them.




What started as a place for me to meet cute boys and ride some waves has now become a place of peace, solace, and hope. It has given me strength when I felt I couldn’t go on, and it has given me an amazing gift that I can share with others in their darkest days. For me, the beach is love, hope, peace. As I hear the airplane flying overhead, I am comforted. The beach is calling me and telling me to come home.


 

Susan Winslow is an English professor who teaches composition, research writing, critical thinking, and literature in southern California. She received her B.A. in Drama from the University of Southern California, her M.A. in English literature from California State


University at Long Beach, and her EdD in Educational Leadership and Management from Capella University. She leads several book clubs, including the DNRS Literary Book Club. She started her journey with DNRS after her perfect storm and has never looked back. She is a traveler, learner, and hiker. Her strong connection with nature and birds has helped her with her healing journey, and she is in the process of writing a children short story series based on her visualizations with her friend Ray the Redhawk.

She may be reached at the following:

litlady@hotmail.com

Facebook: Susan McCormick Winslow

Instagram: susan.winslow63

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