Everyday Pathway

To allow my senses the opportunity to consume life all around me is one of the greatest gifts I can give myself.

I walk to the beach just about every day, along a trusted path that has become reliable and revealing.  While I set my pace, I wander past nearby houses, each providing a familiar feeling.  Overgrown green hedges with dainty blue flowers intrigue me, ruby red geraniums in pots electrify me, and tattered prayer flags draped around a palm tree quiet me.  An unruffled tabby cat named Murphy, saunters beside me.  I meander on past a broken, brick pathway and a little green gate. The two-foot wide and two-foot high gate, always puzzles me, as it seems to serve no function.  Who would use it?

My stride is steady, but the unevenness of the asphalt in my neighborhood keeps me aware of each footstep.  After joining the concrete walkway, it soon empties me into a hectic intersection.  Immediately, I become agitated with motorized vehicles rushing and racing past me.  My peaceful neighborhood has been left behind, now the commotion of activity rouses me from my ruminations.   

Once I make my way past the noise disturbance, a canopy of Torrey Pines shelter me from the sun.  I stroll past a stylish beach hotel with aged stone pavers.  Vacationers are pampered with strawberry smoothies on the pool deck lined with Crayola-orange canvas.  My inner compass directs me to follow the winding path loaded with wildflowers and native grasses.  The pathway veers right, and I slow my gait as I go down nineteen sandy steps with a rusted railing for support.  An old train depot appears on my right stimulating thoughts of untold stories, and decades of families traversing the same path to a playful day at the sea.

I sneak across the train tracks to cross the two-lane coastal route in front of me.  I stop and grin.  My destination peers at me with its shimmering nature.  An expansive spread of aqua-blue water welcomes me while the wind whispers a calming tune.  The fragrance of salty sea forces my head down from the cloudscape to the beauty of reality.  

Seagulls squawk, as the ocean rolls and roars in real-time music.  The rhythm of the waves joining the shoreline synchronizes with the laughter echoing from beach-goers.  The sandpipers forge forward and retreat with each change of the waterline.  The coconut-laced aroma of sunscreen wafts me to the tropics.  My toes touch the sandy beach and my soles are soothed.  

Along the shoreline, some of my favorite finds are sand dollars, moon shells, flat scallops, and knobby whelks; all slightly submerged not looking to be found, only admired.  These marine mollusks lay and lurk, asking nothing of me.  I think of their everyday path.  What familiarity did they leave, and why?  As their shells all tell a story of travel, I wonder what created their outer beauty?   What commotion did they experience to arrive at our mutual destination?  I admire each detail on their hard, protective outer layers.  Their presence creates movement in my mind.

It is up to me to find the randomness in this routine walk I take each day.  I continue to move along and recognize the uncomfortable conversation I begin to have with myself. Life, and death, have a natural way of reminding me to stay aware.  Either to notice the unchanged or to recognize differences. Change is part of everything living, whether I like it or not, it will take place with or without my approval. It may be something small (such as the rusty nail or tourist asking for directions) or significant (such as a dolphin washed upon shore).

As a writer, this daily walk offers clues when I feel stuck.  Meaning is found in the most unassuming places.  I am encouraged every day to find significance in each moment and openly embrace the certainty and uncertainty it presents.  This pathway, my pathway, continues to ignite ideas within me, every day.

© Shannon Hogan Cohen 2016

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