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The Beach Walkers

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What kind of beach walker are you?


By:  Paula Moore Hurtt, Web Content Manager


     Next time you’re at the beach, do some people-watching. You’ll notice that there are several types of beach walkers and each type can teach us a little life lesson.  

     The Peacocks – These people are at the beach for no other reason than to be seen. They walk up and down the shore preening and posing, flexing their muscles and showing off their bikinis. In groups, they flirt and compete for attention. For them the beach is not about the sea and sky. It’s about being seen and liked. The Peacocks are usually in their twenties and thirties, but sometimes they’re in the 40’s, 50’s and beyond…which can be a little creepy. 

     The Young-at-Heart – Children and the elderly fall into this category. They don’t care what people think about their bodies or how they may look in a swimsuit. They’re just glad to be there. They march right down to the shore, heads up, without a care in the world. They weave their way along the edge of the ocean, alternately chasing and being chased by the water coming in to shore. No stylish cover-ups or hats for them as they enter the sea glorying in the feel of the sand between their toes, the waves on their bodies and the sun on their backs. They are a part of everything around them because they are not trapped in their own self consciousness.

     The Dreamers – The dreamers notice and appreciate all the little things around them. They take it all in, pausing to enjoy the colors of the foam on top of the waves, lingering over the tiniest shell lying in the sparkling sand and marveling at how the sea changes color as the sun makes its way across the sky. Often it’s also the children and elderly who fall into this category…the children because it may be the first time they’ve seen the sea…the elderly because they know deep down it may be their last.  It is the children and elderly who possess the wisdom to stop and smell the sea air.

     The Hunters – These are the people who walk along the shore head down carrying a plastic bag or bucket. They are the shell-hunters. Oblivious to the sights and sounds around them as they hunt for that next shell, they are like gamblers at a slot machine…sure that the next quarter will bring the jackpot. With each discovery and the thrill it brings, they find themselves unable to pause and look up at the sea and sky because there is always another shell to be found; so they miss the beauty that is all around them in their never-ending quest for the perfect shell.

     The Conquerors – These are the men and women in suntan oil and hard bodies powering their way down the sand as if they were storming Omaha beach.  Their forays into the water find them swimming against the tide or riding the waves on surf boards or sail boards. For them the beach is something to be conquered rather than enjoyed, so they go at their beach walking like a quest rather than a pleasure. 
 The Power Walkers
– On any early morning, you’ll find them. Usually retired, wiry, wrinkled beyond belief and tanned to within an inch of their lives, they hurry down the beach taking care of the first activity on the day’s to-do list.  Their beach walk is something they must get out of the way. So, they power-walk along with their spouses, heads down and elbows bent at the waist. It is as if they believe that if they walk fast enough, they will always stay ahead of who is inevitably following behind them in their sandy footprints…Father Time.  

     So, what kind of beach walker are you? Do you appreciate the curl of the waves crashing onshore or dive in trying to tame them? Do you take a moment to stop and smell the fresh salty air of the ocean or rush along so that you can go to the next thing on your to-do list? Are you so concerned about what others think of you that you can’t enjoy the warm water against your skin? Do you believe that if you stay busy enough and walk fast enough, you can walk away from aging?

   There is certainly nothing wrong with being focused and determined when life requires it. There are even times in our lives when we must concentrate for awhile on the goal of finding that perfect shell.

     But, we humans are happiest when we find a balance between work and play. We need the yin and the yang of the beach…the bright yellow sunrises and lavender sunsets…the moments swimming against the current balanced with the moments letting the waves take us where they will.   All running and no strolling wears us out. All strolling and no running gets us nowhere.
     So, think about what kind of beach walker you’d like to be.  Then don't forget to smell the salty sea air.