I have lived on the ocean most of my life and feel a deep connection to the water. My wiser self now recognizes that its helps cool my fire; a necessity for a pitta in balance. Suffice to say, I have great love for this magnificent force of nature and I believe that we can learn much from her.
After living in Boulder for almost a decade we returned to the ocean in 2010, just about three years ago to the day. A space in the center of my heart that had felt empty during my time out west was filled again. The summer came quickly but never quick enough for New Englanders. I soon found myself at the beach like so many days of my life, on a towel catching a snooze to the sound of the surf but now there was something different about this beach. A quality had changed over the years that was impossible not to notice. I had returned to a beach that was littered.
I’ve heard about the garbage patches in the ocean, I was aware that things were going a bit awry with the humans and Mother Earth. I just didn’t think it would happen in Newport, RI; a place where wine by the glass can get in the triple digits and seer sucking is a way of life. Newport is the quintessential New England town, absolutely gorgeous, pristine nature all around. It didn’t seem right that garbage was imbedded in the sand and shifting in the surf. I don’t ever remember this when I was a kid and I didn’t want it that way now, I wanted reality to be different.
As summer ensued there was plenty of joyous times at the ocean but I noticed that I had become consumed with the litter each time I visited the beach. Whether I was going to relax or while on a training run I always had garbage in my hand heading to the trash. I was cleaning it up as much as I could but there was a big problem with what I was doing. Each time I picked up a piece of trash I felt mad about it. There was no love, no joy. I was adding negative energy to the experience and essentially making it worse. This continued and it wasn’t until winter time that things changed. As a part of my yoga training I read Loving What Is by Byron Katie. She poses 4 simple questions that, if you are ready to face the answers will be life changing. It was for me. In the book she writes about picking up after her family constantly and how that used to make her very mad. She didn’t feel that she was being appreciated and she was angry every time she picked up after her family. She wanted reality to be different. I immediately thought of the beach. Katie continued this pattern until one day she wondered what it would be like if she completed these tasks with love instead of negativity. She realized a profound change as a result of accepting what is and approaching life with more love. My yoga teacher always says, ‘If you think its going to suck, it’s going to suck’. A case could be made for the contrary. Could our life situation be improved if we opened ourselves up and learned to love more? Without a doubt.
I’ve since enjoyed another beautiful summer at the beach despite wrappers still blowing and liquor nips in the sand. I still pick them up but now I do it with a gentle heart. By replacing anger with love my entire experience has changed. Maybe there is someone or something in your life that could benefit from more love? An annoying co-worker? A dog that doesn’t listen well? Preparing dinner for your family? I don’t know the answer, you do.