Enchanted Tide Chasers

As the worldwide pandemic has moldered on with California being particularly locked down, my husband Ken and I have been motivated to discover new ways of living our lives. He is still seeing his high school girl wrestlers a few days each week, and I am just getting back to leading tours at the mission, but it still leaves many hours in which to find creative ways to live.
Our new “thing” began serendipitously back in January after my emotional reaction to the January 6th Capitol insurrection. We began, in earnest, looking for active ways to keep me settled down. More than ever we started taking little adventure trips around our county particularly to the seashore. Our first such visit was on January 12th to Doheny State Beach. We nearly opted to stay cozy on the sofa watching the news, but forced ourselves to go out and we were glad we did. Our timing happened to coincide with an extremely low tide. The tide was so far out that huge rocks far beyond the surf line were exposed. With great delight we hopped from rock to rock, laughing and snapping photos of the flocks of seagulls which refused to be scared away. Later we walked around the harbor and discovered several Black Crowned Night Herons, Blue Herons, and an Egret sunning on the hand railing next to our path, they were far too at home to fly away. I had entered a birder’s Eden and was dizzy with excitement as I snapped dozens of photos.
That trip got us excited to begin studying the tide charts. A few days later we ventured to Crystal Cove, just south of Newport Beach. At the trail head we were chatting with a man, explaining that we were following the tide charts. He looked at me and exclaimed, “Are you a surfer?” I smiled, “No, just a nature lover.” Ken got the biggest kick out of that; he loves the idea that his septuagenarian wife could be taken for a surfer!
These many weeks later, we have both downloaded the tidal app into our cell phones. We think of ourselves as “Tide Chasers!” We have adopted a new habit. We are having the best time following low tides while getting our steps in everyday. Part of the thrill is that we never know what we will discover. Late yesterday, at Salt Creek we came upon a sunset photo-shoot of a very expectant mother, her small child and husband. She was on the wet sand in a long lavender tulle and lace gown, cupping the enormity of her expectancy while holding the toddler’s hand. The husband smiled down at his budding family as the photographer snapped away. Tears filled my eyes. It was beautiful.
Leaving them, Ken and I proceeded down the beach when two single-passenger motor-gliders buzzed twenty feet above our heads, dizzying all us spectators with their crazy dipping, and soaring antics. They came by three different times. It was wild fun to watch them! Walking and chatting about the gliders, we soon encountered several elaborate drip sand castles, one with rock towers adorning it, and endless flocks of seagulls!
As the sun began to sink behind Catalina Island, some kind of magic seemed to settle across the area. Spectators began arriving and staking out their sites to watch the sun’s spectacular Technicolor goodbye. We realized this was becoming a consistent experience: hundreds of spectators assembling each evening up and down the coast. It seems that the setting sun has become a new kind of pandemic spectator sport.
The Covid-19 restrictions have brought on new ways of being, not all of them good. According to some of the posts I see on Facebook, the threat has led to depression and feelings of isolation and desperation. People live with grief, and loss, and worry. These past twelve months have been extremely traumatic for most Americans, and specifically devastating for others. Our suffering is real.
Neuroscience has discovered that it is possible to change the way our brain is thinking when we are “stuck.” Being “stuck” means that our brain mulls a negative thought over and over while it is trying to problem-solve. After that January 6th Capitol incident, I could feel myself being pulled down. This can lead to the arousal state of feeling overwhelmed. We can change that pattern but we must take action to do so. My daughter, Julina, sent me an interesting quote yesterday. “Crisis does not create character, it reveals it.”
We humans are resilient. We can be mindful that we must take action to feel better. Habits come from deep neural maps for thinking and doing certain things within our brains. It is possible to change those maps and create new ones but it takes effort and being conscious of what one is thinking. Steven Covey in, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, says, “Our character, basically is a composite of our habits . . . habits are powerful factors in our lives because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, that daily express our character and produce effectiveness or ineffectiveness.” We need the good kind of habits!
I think it is essential to focus on what we HAVE instead of what we do not have. Aristotle said, WE ARE WHAT WE REPEATEDLY DO. EXCELLENCE IS NOT AN ACT, IT IS A HABIT. I invite you to walk outdoors and embrace nature in a new way. Look for a moment of joy. This morning I saw an egret sitting on top of my neighbor’s gazebo. Really? How delightful! Maybe you can become a sunset aficionado, taking photos of its color show, or a recorder of all you see on the walking trail, or a lover of birds or wildlife? For now Ken and I are enchanted by all that can be discovered at the seashore as we chase the tides.
I want to hear what you are doing during this stressful time to keep yourself in a positive state of mind. What delightful habit have you developed? I love to know what you are thinking. My best, donna