“I really don’t know why it is that all of us are so committed to the sea, except I think it’s because in addition to the fact that the sea changes, and the light changes, and ships change, it’s because we all came from the sea. And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea – whether it is to sail or to watch it – we are going back from whence we came.”-John F. Kennedy
On the first day of our trip to Florida, I told my dear sister that I didn’t care what else we did for four days as long as I saw the sun set once over the ocean.We could travel or stay put. We could eat peanut butter sandwiches or dine in fine restaurants. We could share a bed (we have lots of practice at that) or have two beds. None of it mattered in the slightest to me. She’d rented the car and I was just along for the ride, I told her. I meant every word.
And so, in addition to walking the beach and eating both peanut butter sandwiches and some really great seafood, we also drank a little too much wine one night and text pranked a grown child (who shall remain nameless) giggling much too loudly while a waitress gave us the stink eye.We cussed out Siri when she was too slow telling us when to turn. In quieter, more reflective moments, we spent time unpacking both our burdens and our blessings as sisters are known to do. But mostly, we traveled wherever the road took us, two not-so-young-anymore sisters in the sunshine, completely unencumbered. It was glorious.
We watched the sun set with other two-legged land creatures who’d gathered on the same beach. Some sat in lawn chairs and others stood facing the horizon.The two of us sat on a bench and waited, too. As the enormous sun began to move toward the place where the sea meets the sky, land creatures who had just moments ago been laughing and visiting with one another began to grow more still. All eyes faced west, toward the setting sun. The only sound to be heard up and down the shore was the crashing of waves. In a final flash, the sun disappeared. The land creatures began to clap. Some even cheered.
It was a holy moment.
I’m home now. The handful of small shells I picked up are in a bowl on my desk and my rapidly fading four-day suntan is covered by a wool sweater. But I keep thinking about that moment. All of us strangers to one another, waiting for, and then celebrating the same sunset. The same miracle. There were no races or religions or political leanings in that moment. We were just a community of creatures standing on the shore of our shared ancestral home.We need to watch less cable news and more sunsets, my friends. One thing we all seem to be able to agree on is sunsets over an ocean.
As often as humanly possible, one should stand near another former sea creature, face home, and applaud a miracle.