I was walking along the beach, enjoying the feeling of the wet sand beneath my feet. It was November and the beach was empty and quiet. I like walking where the sand is wet, and every once in a while a wave washes up farther than the others, and when it reaches me it is a pleasant layer of seawater, achieving its apex and then recedes and it is this layer of water that I step into along my walks. I had my shoes in my hand, and they swung gently in my gait, and I sometimes stopped and closed my eyes and listened to the ocean and thought about the way everything smelled. I had left work early and had driven here in almost a fugue state on my way home. But I remember now that I made a choice to turn left instead of going straight, which I sometimes do, and I remember who I am so it was not a fugue. It’s just that sometimes I do things after I think about them. I think about doing them, and it seems like the decision part of doing the thing is kind of rushed and skipped over. Some day I will sit in an empty room and have two options and I will think and make a decision deliberately and I will not skip steps.
I was standing in the wet sand of the beach with my eyes closed and I thought, Greg Jones, you are doing ok. It’s ok that you left work and will not be paid for the time you are not working. This time is more valuable than the money you would get at work if you were still there. The time for work and being paid will come later. You cannot always leave work, but it is alright. This is a moment in your life.
I didn’t decide to open my eyes but they opened. I looked around, to see if anyone had arrived at the beach while I was standing there, having my moment in my life. And even though my eyes weren’t closed, I heard my thoughtful introspective voice-over return. This time it was unbidden, and I was concerned by the fact that the inner monologue was coming to me as I was having other thoughts, as if I was being interrupted and interrupting myself simultaneously.
You might have to live your life again. It might be a repetitious cycle and you will have the same experiences over and over, and the choices you make will be repeated and chosen by you over and over, and you are the only one who can control yourself and what your life is like. Don’t ignore moments because you don’t get to push a moment away. Every moment is forever and you will think this thought again when you come back around on the next cycle.
I think I stopped thinking that thought because I had other thoughts, which were mostly me worrying about thinking multiple thoughts and telling myself not to worry about that too much. After all, I might have to do all this over again, there’s no sense in setting a poor precedent of life if I’m doomed to repeat it. Maybe doomed isn’t the right word…
I looked down at the wet sand underneath my feet and saw a conch shell. It was beautiful, something you would see in an expensive store in a beach town, and about the size of a baby’s head. A small part of it was buried in the sand, the rest of it was exposed and was turned perfectly towards me so that I could see into it is opened curves. Like a photograph representing what people imagine a conch shell to look like, and it’s little spikes were all there and weren’t broken off or anything. It was pure white and its gentle pink glaze was bright and clear. I looked at it and imagined picking it up and putting it to my ear and hearing the ocean. I thought, I already am hearing the ocean.
As I took my wadded up sock out of my shoes and put them back onto my drying feet, back in the parking lot next to my car, I had more thoughts, and I am thinking now that I made the decision to leave the conch shell where it was, half-buried, perfect, in the wet sand.