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  • Nidhi Chaitanya

Being Beachy



I was all of 15 when I had last touched the sea. But that was a different me in a different life during a different era. Since then. it has been 20 years and several beaches around the world, and no matter which part of the world I am in or how clean the beaches may be, somehow the waters just have never called me. I would often walk on dry sandy beaches and appreciate the serenity of the sea and the eagerness of the waves from far. But I never stepped in the water, not even as much as to dip my feet or even touch it with my little finger.

It is as if my teenage took with it not just the hormonal upheavals and sweet silliness, but even my intimacy with the sea. I haven’t even owned a swimsuit since then nor even had the aspiration to immerse myself in any water body. In spite of being a classic water-person, something had snapped inside me as though breaking that intricate and longstanding bond I shared with H2O.

But with coronavirus making human contact a growing rarity, 2 decades and a whole lot of life later, I stood at a deserted beach, wanting to ‘touch the sea”. I was surprised when I said to myself: “I want to get closer and dip myself in the sea!” Yes of course, I do surprise myself a lot all the time. Living in an ocean-deep intimacy with yourself, often makes you aware of what a wondrously transformative being you truly are capable of living as. Indeed I can never guess what I might come up with because there is always a part of me shifting in some way! This time, it was the re-awakening of a deep and almost dormant desire to ‘be beachy’!

Something about the vast expanse of the ocean invited me like the widespread arms of a long-lost lover. The waves as though danced in a frolic froth, almost inevitably yet tirelessly failing in their persistent efforts to rise and touch the sky. But the sky seemed humbly bowing down to just honour the depth of love and life that this salty lover held in his heart.

I stood there, my toes soaked in the sluggishly wet sand, trying to use my eyes to capture the magnificence that my heart was feeling. The waves of the ocean were never in a hurry. They walk magnificently on the ocean surface, like children whose parents have offered them the security of unconditional love and acceptance. They literally always have each other’s back. And they are not afraid to let go of their whole identity if that’s what it takes for them to return home and merge in their vaster identity as the ocean itself!

Every time they would near the shores, there was a graceful rush in their gait, almost similar to a bride clad in white eager to kiss her future wife or husband. There is a shyness, a readiness, an eagerness and a stillness at the same time in the way of the waves.

Every single time a wave would recede, she could take along with her some wet sand as if like a souvenir of her tryst with the shores. And as the sand would get willingly swept off its feet, my feet would sink deeper into it. At some point, I almost felt like the sea wanted to ground me right there so that I would never leave again.

People often speak of sacred rivers and their healing powers. I truly believe there is nothing as healing as the sea because if there is anything sacred in any river, it is probably in the ocean where all rivers meet. The ocean is almost like a little gang of rivers giggling together as if they were never different from each other. The sense of oneness that prevails is almost like this sweet congregation of old friends!

In those moments, as the sea smothered me with its salty love and I got drenched like I haven’t been in what has felt like forever, something silently healed inside me. I almost found my heart and my laughter while being beachy. I found a part of me that I had unknowingly abandoned trying to be a fitting adult, if there is such a thing! At the beach, in the sea, it felt like I had accidentally stumbled on me! It felt like the beach brought back the person I wished I could be for so many years.

Perhaps contacting the wilderness and freedom of the sea, set me free. Perhaps the salt or the sand or the sound awakened my soul. Perhaps I was just deficient in Vitamin Sea! I really have no clue what happened, but as dramatic as it may sound to you, in just that one date with the briny waters, I almost got my life back!

As I stood grateful and grounded in the sand pit that was deepening with every wave, there were little shells and starfish and crab-holes all around me. I picked a starfish, named it Ayni, and put it back in the ocean. Giving Ayni her life back, felt like a small token of love to the ocean for giving me my life back in a single meeting. I promised to never lose ‘touch’ again. I promised to never leave me again. I promised to be beachy always!

Sometimes, there is truly nothing that can replace our childhood connections with nature. As kids we all find the magnanimity of nature truly wondrous. We play in mud and dance in sand, we swim in water and fall from trees, we eat fresh picked berries and drink stream waters. As kids, we are not afraid of our original friend - Nature!

But adulting is a social construct that forces us to confine the child in us in many ways, in order to serve social, economic and cultural needs. Sitting in our city homes, we often do not realise the depth of connection we hold for the natural universe.

Even when we go to a beach or climb a mountain, we are on social media or checking emails, we are clicking photos or planning lunches, we are running for fitness or walking our dog! But we rarely ever allow our inner-child to simply play like there was no right way to do anything, like there is nowhere else to be at that moment, like time did not matter and like space itself had melted away taking with it all the constraints we have put on our childhood spirits.

During this pandemic, while everyone is complaining about not being able to meet friends or go to work like before, I will never accept that this disconnectedness is the new normal. We are a resilient species and we will always find our way back to what our heart yearns. But I do hope that we all find, kindle, nurture and never stop satiating our yearnings for the silence of nature.

No, the sea was of course not silent at all. It roared and whispered constantly. I am not sure if it is a fact, but I remember reading long back that the sound of the ocean is similar to the sounds in a human womb. And hence the sound of the sea sort of invokes in us the sense of tranquility that we felt as little humans within the safe space of the body of another human! Whether it is scientifically true or not, the feeling of peace that the sound of the sea invokes is surely almost baby-like.

But if you have ever done deep sea diving, you know that every sound the ocean makes, comes from a magically silent place inside it. Yes, nature helps us find THAT silence which is at the seabed of all sounds and songs. And I often find that a voice risen from inner silence is always one that is magical! Hope you find that silence and that voice today. Sending you big love while still being beachy! :)

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© 2020 by Nidhi Chaitanya