We are currently on vacation in Nevarre, FL. Our online friends, Jason and Brandi Elam, live here and we desperately needed to get away this year. 2020 was a year of Covid and being confined to home. We really don’t mind being at home, we just had other aspirations of going to Taiwan and possibly having an adventure or two that didn’t materialize.
One of the best things about traveling is the interesting people you meet. Laura and I both are realizing we are introverted and can enjoy just being together wherever we are. Trust me, I’m grateful that we can do this, but we also love people! Under the right circumstances, we experience real joy being with people. We just don’t want to do it all the time.
Today, we met some fascinating people.
Our waitress at breakfast made us laugh first thing in the morning. She was one of those people that can tease you and still make you feel good about it. Some people think they are funny, but there are the few that actually are. This lady was genuinely engaging and knew how to banter in a way that made us feel good. The fact that they were shorthanded in the kitchen was barely noticeable because she made an effort to focus on us and make us feel at home.
When we were trying to figure out what to do for the day, we stopped off at a tropical looking bar in the middle of a bunch of activity. The bartender was a young girl in her twenties that appeared to be pregnant. She served us a non-alcoholic daquiri and advised us about possible things to do and the realities of the culture around us. It was amazing that she was doing this with about four or five people at the same time. Some people talk about multi-tasking and then some people can actually do it. This young lady was delightful and down-to-earth and we enjoyed the brief stop off in our morning.
Upon her advice, we learned about the sea turtle conservatory. The presenter there was full of energy when she told us about the “turtle squad” and what they do every day to protect the sea turtles and help them overcome the difficult odds and their struggles with the human population.
We had determined not to go to the beach yesterday, but eventually it drew us in and we found ourselves standing on the beach watching the angry waves that probably had something to do with the tropical storm down South. There were many people doing their own thing on the beach, but I especially noticed the older couple that somehow appeared to be the especially adept at just being at the beach. They weren’t scurrying around like many trying to get all their equipment situated, they were content be in exactly the right spot and they seemed to be truly appreciating and experiencing the motion of the ocean.
Eventually, after taking our nap, we made arrangements with Jason and Brandi to go out to eat. They took us to a wonderful vegan restaurant called “End of the Line Cafe’.” It is not uncommon to see various types of people in a plant-based restaurant. From the curious explorer to the “just give me something to eat” family, you are apt to see just about any type of people there. This includes the vegans that are totally committed disciples of the lifestyle. I don’t have to describe what they look like, because they are just what you would imagine. They are hippy-like in appearance, thin and quiet — some people just love to play the part, no matter what lifestyle they choose.
In my book, Being: A Journey Toward Presence and Authenticity, I talked about being who you are. So many of the people yesterday, from the tourists to the locals, were experiencing this rare experience of being themselves. The bartender and the waitress and even the turtle at the conservatory were being who they were. They weren’t playing a role — they were fully engaged in the drumbeat of their existence being exactly who they were.
No one exhibited that more than the ghost crab we met just before sundown. He emerged from the hole in front of us just before nightfall. Let’s just call him “George” to be consistent with how we name creatures that come into our life. George’s appearance blends into the sand and emerging at night to find food only makes sense to keep him safe from predators. George wasn’t looking for an audience to appease, he wasn’t trying to be some other type of creature. He was much like the rhythmic waves in the background, just being what he was – a ghost crab.
Maybe it would behoove us to find the rhythm of life like the creatures around us seem to do. Their lives are fraught with problems such as when fishing lines entangle the sea turtles and cause them to suffer unnecessarily. But nature doesn’t seem to complain or make excuses, it just rhythmically moves on. It doesn’t change identities, it just keeps being where it is and who it is. And, as we experienced last night, this can be mesmerizing.
I think I’m going to always remember George, the ghost crab, not because we was impressive, but because he was present and authentic. In a very strange way, he is what I aspire to be. Someone that doesn’t ignore the necessities of life like sleeping and gathering food, but at the same time knows how to be where he is and who he is well enough to admired by four people who claim to be higher beings.
I wish for you an authentic and present life. I know you can’t be a ghost crab, but I hope you slow down long enough to learn from their rhythmic existence. When you are tempted to spend too much time future tripping or journeying to the past, I hope you remind yourself to plant yourself in the sand and discover a teacher like George, the ghost crab, or Sweet Pea, the sea turtle.
By the way, we don’t necessarily have to come to Florida to learn this lesson. If we pay attention, there are clues all around us that can help us live better lives. I hope we make space for the teachers that come into our lives and pay attention to the lessons they teach us.
Be where you are, be who you are,