Summer doesn't feel complete if I don't get to the ocean at least once, not necessarily for the swimming but for the sound of the waves, the feel of the sand, the endless stretch of sky meeting water somewhere beyond my view. Even with its noisy boardwalk and deep-fried everything, smokers at every turn, and the occasional loud college kids waking up the beach complex at 1 a.m., the Jersey Shore can be a place for mindfulness, contemplation, solitude, and silence.
When I took Olivia for a walk down the crowded beach in search of pretty shells, it took on the feel of a meditation as I focused my attention on the sand right in front of me. Step by step, wave by wave, everything else faded away and it was just me and my girl in a quiet and beautiful world. A similar thing happened when Chiara and I went tide-pooling, wading into the shallows left behind as the tide went out in search of hermit crabs and minnows looking for a way back to sea. There was something deeply spiritual about our mutual excitement over finding one small crab scurrying near our feet or one giant horseshoe crab moving slowly through the sand.
Even Raging Waters water park on the boardwalk became an opportunity for quiet contemplation as I sat facing the ocean with dozens of children splashing around behind me in the kiddie section. From my vantage point, all I could see was ocean and sand, a roller coaster in stillness in the distance, and an occasional parasailor quietly floating across the bright blue sky. The sight of parents and children carting coolers and sand buckets to the beach below filled my heart with joy as I thought about all the families around me just trying to create a few special memories here on the sands of the Atlantic coast.
We've got a few more days in sunny, sandy New Jersey, and I'm looking forward to discovering more stolen moments of mindfulness amid the shrieks and squeals of the real Jersey Shore.
Here are a few more photos from our trip so far:
A view of the Atlantic from the beginning of the boardwalk.
The entrance to the Wildwood boardwalk.