SMELLS LIKE MINT
How do you wake up in the morning? Stretching? Identifying all the aches and pains? Do you have someone to roll over towards or roll away from? Do you have to go to the bathroom? As your mind arrives back from the identical carousels it rides all night, does worry enter first or gratitude? Do you hear the sounds of the city or the country? Are you able to let go of the pressures of your life or are you accountable and consumed by all that you must do? If you were able, could you just let yourself have a beautiful day?
Yesterday, I woke up early with my camera charged. With new knowledge from a DVD I watched, that taught me how to see better through my camera, I was eager to get out and put the sun behind me on the beach, rather than be blinded by her in front of me. I wanted to get some of that early morning light. When was the last time you got up early, just to get shined on?
I crossed over the bridge to Siesta Key and caught some activity off to the left. I zoomed in, whipped the camera out and started stealing images. A diving class was preparing to go out on a boat. It was a 5 day certification camp. 3 days in the pool and classes, two days on the boat and in the water. I asked the kids if the tanks were heavy. They said that once they’re in the water, it just feels weightless. This is how they started out their day… a little more buoyant than the rest of us.
Out at sunrise, that’s kind of how it feels to me, the weights of the day are just a little lighter.
I made it out to the beach, but was a bit disappointed with how empty it was. There was nothing there but the sound of the surf and the birds. Occasionally a runner would come by or a stray elderly couple, but for the most part, it was just me and the birds. Here’s a shot of a different kind of meeting. I imagine they were gossiping about the events of the prior day and how they would all go about fishing and where they would fly to today.
They argued without looking at each other while they picked the bugs from under their feathers. I imagined that the girl birds noticed each other and resented the prettier birds. I imagine the boy birds argued about who would catch more fish on this day and who was the better flyer.
Just then, a mother and daughter rode by on their bikes in their bathing suits. I’ve lived in many ghettos, many high rises, on this continent and on others. I’ve lived among the rich and the poor, in the city and in the country. What is it about a mind that gets so used to struggle that the view of simple play is almost inconceivable?
Ethnic families arguing at each other from the stoop into the street. Throwing coffee cups and screaming. Crying children being dragged into cars so they can be dropped off at daycare. People rushing into work with wet heads from the shower, chewing on an English Muffin, walking while putting make-up on or knotting their tie.
Construction workers having lost their driver’s license from too many DWI’s wait to be picked up by coworkers with pick ups. Some people sit alone in dark rooms dreading another day of being terrorized by their thoughts.
Meanwhile, at the same exact time and in another place on earth, a mother and daughter ride by on bikes, under the sunshine and in their bathing suits. Even the sand frolics up in the air as the tires juggle the grains from the beach.
I walked alone on the beach and gave myself permission to just enjoy being there. I let myself feel the sun on my face and listen to the birds arguing in the distance as they flew and hunted for food. I listened to the surf washing up on the shore. I felt the breeze come in off the gulf and could smell the humid air, filled with hints of fishy coconut.
The warm bath water washed my feet, as I sunk into wet fresh talcum powder sand with each new step. I caught the day reflected in a puddle.
Suddenly, a school of fish must have swam close to shore and all the birds stopped yelling at each other and they all headed up into the air for diving breakfast.
Some of the cooler birds just walked along side of me. We both strolled slowly with our feet in the water. We both got blown by the breeze. They were looking for tiny little crabs or fish or shells. I was just wondering what it was like to be them.
I suppose, like humans, we all look-alike to them as they do to us. Two eyes, a nose and a mouth are pretty much the same in all people to them… as to us, one bird walking one way and a completely different bird walking in a different direction, look identical. I wonder if they have different personalities.
I wonder if they feel fear or do they just hunt for food. I wonder if they wake up each day wondering how they will make more ink-on-paper, or do they have no thoughts and no worries. Their face seems to not show any expression compared to ours.
I wonder if the pretty white ballerina birds know they are so much prettier than the peculiar dark gray wet pelicans that seem to fly with the stature of eagles but are visually so strange and disproportionate.
I wonder if birds have friendships and seek their familiars; the ones they know and the ones they hang around with. I mean, we watch their behavior, but what do we really know about them? What’s going on in their tiny little heads?
Appreciating the beach world and trying not to think too much, I had to get back to the car and jump on a conference call. Time to put the flip flops back on and plug the hands free into my cell phone. Naturally there was another stupid flower bursting out of a bush by the parking lot.
One time long ago, in an extremely stressful time, I met a guy who was some kind of religious nut. I was wound up tighter than tight… so tight in fact that I believed I could smell my brains burning; it smelled like mint. I looked at this guy and wondered what made him so cool and so collected. I wondered if he had the weight and pressure of the world on him too or was he just a good actor.
I asked him what his secret was, expecting a passage from the bible or some type of Jesus spout. (not that there’s anything wrong with that) And he just turned to me and looked deep in my face and said the weirdest thing. He said, “When things get tough for me, I just go outside and look at the birds.”
I never forgot that guy or what he said as I never understood what he meant and always thought he was just out of his mind. I just assumed that everyone could smell their brains burning like mint and I was the only one who would admit it. But now, as I give myself permission to just enjoy the day, I find myself looking at the birds a lot. I think I understand what he was saying now.