Sand Dollars


We walked hand in hand finding sand dollars on the beach.  The sun’s last flames of pink and orange stretched just above the gray Pacific’s horizon.  A few surfers still tried to catch the receding waves.  Early springtime melted into early evening and early affections, as gentle as the soft white spume left on the wet sand: Ocean Beach in late March marking a time to begin, to feel the heart’s beat again.

These perfect sand dollars we find are talismans, protecting us from harm for this moment, here on Ocean Beach.  We’re creating the possibility of a future that doesn’t yet exist. Not yet.


Here we are on the Western edge of the country, facing the sunsets.  I grew up facing sunrises.  I once had a summer job as a night watchman at a country club in Sewickley Heights where we lived.  The clubhouse was on a hill and looked out over the golf course directly eastward.  I would sit outside before dawn and watch the first pink glow appear on the horizon.  The sun would pop up and the magic disappeared.  Time to go home.


Bowdoin College’s symbol is the Sun.  It’s the first college in the country to have the sun shine on it every morning. For nearly two hundred years the school’s alma mater began with the delicious double pun, “Rise sons of Bowdoin…”  With the arrival of women, the line was changed to “Raise songs to Bowdoin…”  A generation of graduates mourned.


These are simple thoughts, warm thoughts, like sunshine.  Walking on the beach in the last rays of sunshine is peace; contentment; happiness–an end in itself, without an outcome, just being together now, in a moment of grace.  There isn’t any other.  This is what it means to be alive.


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