For as long as I can remember, the beach has been a haven, a place where I feel at home. Not in a what are we having for dinner or Reece, can you please stop rifling a lacrosse ball against the side of the house it’s driving me insane version of home, but a quiet, uncomplicated one. The winter, in particular, evokes this feeling. There’s ease of heart, out here, on the cold sand with no one else around, and time slows down. No tourists. No umbrellas that fly away with the wind. No pesky seagulls hovering in hopes that the kid with the bag of Cheez-its drops one. So, yes, perhaps it’s more haven than home.
I was on Cape Cod visiting my family on New Year’s Eve, dressing like a hippie/farmer if you follow my Twitter feed, and preparing to kick off some meditative and meaningful New Year’s festivities. However, I had no specific plans, and this made me anxious. Didn’t legendary basketball coach John Wooden once say, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” Was I already failing 2012 by not having solid plans?
I thought about absconding to Kripalu for a couple nights, but the yoga and meditation center in western MA was booked for the weekend. I took it as a sign that I was better off staying put. In theory, being alone in a pseudo ashram with my thoughts and clog shoes sounded appealing—until I considered the possibility that I might get lonely. Maybe I’d become melancholy with all that shuffling among strangers, from the meditation room to the vegetarian dining hall, in distinctly unsparkly footwear on a holiday when people were dressing up, making out, and acting crazy.
I walked along my favorite beach, instead, listening to fog horns of nearby ships. I squinted to make out Martha’s Vineyard sitting 7-ocean miles across from me, beneath a heavy mist. I crunched along the rocks in my sneakers. I considered going running.
Then, the rocks caught my eye. I’m not a collector by nature (unless you count huge sunglasses and crazy hats), but I considered toting some of these keepers home. (Why today after so many years of having no desire to collect rocks?). I picked one up. It was perfectly smooth and flat. I turned it over in my hand and suspected it was the most ideal skipping rock in the world. In an instant, I turned toward the ocean and and skipped it.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 . . . times! Maybe more. Right hand up: I swear.
I looked around incredulously: Did anyone see that!
What prompted this solo, rock-skipping New Year’s Eve adventure, I’ll never know, but I was onto something. 2012 could be the year I skip rocks better than any gal around. Maybe I could win the Cy Young award of throwing rocks on wintry beaches with no one looking? There were infinite possibilities, I thought. Watch me! I got into position; I considered my technique; I threw a second rock…It flip-flopped once, then sunk straight to the bottom. How melancholy. I tried a few more times with varying levels of success, but none matched the initial, unfettered, in-the-moment magic of my first toss.
It reminded me of a favorite quote by Swami Prajnanpad, “If you are in the moment, you are in the infinite.”
I walked back to my car slowly, breathing in deeply the salty air I would miss once back in the city, or on the highway in just a few minutes. I snapped a few photos, soaking in the end of the year in my own way. In a few hours, I’d have plans: yoga plans and dinner plans with BFF Chanel Luck. We’d meditate, then have a glass of wine. We’d concoct a makeshift ritual in the final 12-minutes leading up to 2012, when we’d write all the things we wanted to leave behind and burn them at midnight.
It was a fitting way to end one year and begin another, skipping so many things: the need to over-plan, a fear of failure before I’d started, potential melancholy or hangover, and, of course, rocks. Infinitely simple and filled with possibility.