MTS Part 2: Seaside Lessons From Old Souls

Here is the first completed story to kick off my second book  “Much Too Soon Part 2”. Enjoy!

Seaside Lessons from Old Souls

“Look around, it doesn’t get any better than this”. My grandfather said as he skipped a stone into the navy blue ocean in front of us. Waves gently washed against the large rock that we stood on while a slice of faded orange began to show on the horizon. “It’s beautiful” I said as I let out a yawn. “Still asleep over there?”  my dad asked with a laugh. “No, no, I’m ready” I responded quickly and with as much energy as I could muster. I truly was excited to be going on this sunrise walk, it felt somewhat like a rite of passage. However, while these two were seasoned vets, I was not yet used to the crack of dawn lifestyle.

The breeze was chilly as we set off on our morning adventure. My dad had suggested bringing a sweater several times, but me being a defiant teen, thought it was ridiculous advice. It was mid June, how cold could it be? Well, at 5 a.m. apparently pretty damn cold. I was wearing a tee-shirt and shorts, and luckily listened to their counsel against wearing flip flops. The first stretch of the path consisted almost solely of slippery rocks and I was glad to have some solid traction under me. I was freezing, I was exhausted, but I was happier than ever to be with them, following their lead.

I watched their every move as they climbed over rocks and tried my best to shadow their steps. After walking along a small beach we came to an intersection. We could either continue on the sand outwards and to the left or veer to the right through a wooded area. They both stopped and looked back at me. “Which way buddy?!” My dad asked. Looking at the woods it looked somewhat eerie and dark, like it could’ve been on the cover of a Goosebumps book. I had no idea if there was a right answer, but it seemed like the woods was the more exciting way, so I pointed in that direction. “He’s a natural!” My grandfather exclaimed as he slapped my dad on the back and said “ Already knows the shortcut”. My dad smiled almost identically and said “Lead the way pal!”

It felt good to lead the way even though I had no idea where we were going. As I marched quickly through the path I could tell it had been walked through many a time. “We’ve got a regular Davy Crockett on our hands” my dad said as my grandfather laughed and agreed “We sure do, look at this guy go!” I used to love the theme song from Davy Crockett which my parents and I would sing along to in the car. I began singing the chorus, “Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier!” as my dad hummed along with me. Suddenly I was fully energized and felt like I could take on the world. ( If you’re ever looking for a good coffee substitute, I would highly suggest a sunrise walk-  it does the trick and then some ) We continued on steadily through the woods until we approached an overgrown section of brush.

My dad used his walking stick to break them down and push them to the side. He and my grandfather cleared through the prickers and branches swiftly and signaled me through. It looked effortless, like they had done this a hundred times, which they probably had. “Good call not trying to barrel through there.We gotta get you set up with your own walking stick, let’s keep an eye out” my father said to me. “Plenty of sticks around here, just need to find the right one” my grandfather added. For the next few minutes,  I walked slowly, eyeing every inch around me in efforts to find a stick. I wanted so badly to have one like them. I needed one.

Falling more and more behind my eye finally caught a thick hanging branch which looked to be the size and shape I was looking for. “Wait guys, look I found it!” I pointed to the hanging branch in excitement. The men stopped and turned around to check it out. “Which one?” my grandfather asked. “Hanging, right there!”  My grandfather walked 10 or 15 feet into the woods and yanked on the potential find. Coming down instantly with one tug my grandfather let out a slightly disappointed sigh. “Sorry pal, this wood is dead, it’s weak” he said as he cracked the wood with his hand like he was breaking a kit-kat bar. The bark and wood chips crumbled to the ground and I too became disappointed. It had looked so perfect.      

“Definitely the right idea” my dad said as he patted me on the back. “Right size and everything, good eye. You’ll find the right one sooner or later, no rush.” The sun began to peak through the woods and lit up the previously dim and narrow path. Looking ahead I could see the shortcut ending and connecting back to the beach. Catching a glimpse of the vast blue ocean through the tunnel of trees I began to run. Dashing by my father and then nearly knocking into my grandfather he exclaimed “Woahhh there speedy gonsalez”! I turned around briefly and smiled at the two and then left them in the dust. I had never been to this side of the bay, and was anxious to see the view. Turning the slight corner from out of the path I arrived on a slight ledge which jutted out over a strip of beach below. Looking out past the beach I was immediately mesmerized by the amazing scene in front of me.

The waves rolled in slowly as the sky seemed to hover gracefully on top of them. Seagulls flew casually by as faded yellows, pinks and reds dispersed across the entire bay. I had never seen, or felt anything as awe inspiring before in my life. Cool wind gusts coupled with warm sun rays hit me as I stood completely still gazing for what seemed like a lifetime.  Behind me I could hear laughter and footsteps as the men approached. I didn’t turn or say anything, I was still in awe. As the footsteps got closer the laughter stopped. The three of us stood in silence together, looking out at the breathtaking view. What a feeling. I could tell they felt it too, it was a something special. Nothing needed to be said, it was understood. It looked like a world renowned painting, it almost didn’t look real at all. No picture or words could do this type of moment justice and that was fine, because there we were, living in it.

We savored the moment for a while longer before slowly continuing on the path. There was something about this specific morning that I could physically feel; my senses were heightened and everything appeared more vividly than usual. I had never experienced anything like it. “Can’t beat that, worth the early wake up call right buddy?” my dad asked smiling. “Absolutely, I said in awe as I turned and looked out again at the endless ocean. Something came over me at that moment, a powerful yet simultaneously gentle force that I wanted to embody forever. “I’ve always liked waking up with the sun, feel like it’s a headstart on the day. There’s a calmness to it that lets you be with your thoughts before any distractions” my dad said quietly, almost to himself.  My grandfather chimed in “Or in my case some peace and quiet before your grammie starts asking me to do a million things… don’t tell her i said that buddy” he said to me with a smirk.

“She’s a wonderful woman, and you’ll meet a wonderful woman someday too. But, the one thing you gotta understand about women, is you’ll never understand women.” my grandfather advised smiling still but with a strong hint of seriousness in his tone. “That’s rule number one” I said as I looked to my dad. “ That’s absolutely right” my dad said with a laugh, “that’s rule number one”. “But, your grandmother, and your mother, they are great women. Make sure you find yourself someone like that, who is going to have your back, you’ve got to  have eachothers back ” my grandfather said glowing now . “How do you find someone like that”? I asked, noticing the happiness in his voice. He sighed deeply and laughed. “I wish I knew the answer to that, I think you just start by living your life, and loving it. That’s what I loved so much about your grandmother, she was so happy living her life, it was her energy. Just live your life and don’t feel obligated to force anything. When the right one comes along you’ll know, until then, enjoy the ride . Sometimes the best things in life show up when you stop looking for them .”

           It sounded like quality advice, though I wasn’t yet sure how to apply it. Did it mean to just sit around and wait? No, he said to live my life, and love whatever I was doing. Well, I was loving this morning, that was for sure. After ten to fifteen minutes of more joking, and climbing over slippery rocks we came to a stop in front of an long jetty made of large stones. The rock path stretched out about as long as a football field . There was a large arrow head looking rock standing taller and further out than all the rest. “That’s what they call the point” my grandfather said as he pointed to the rock I had been eyeing. Immediately I wanted, no, I needed to stand out on that rock. “Can we go out there? All the way to the end?!” “Of course buddy! Just be careful, go slow.”my dad instructed. “Okay!” I said already half skipping my way towards the point.

 

Into The Mystic

Light and cool mist hit the side of my face as I charged ahead. The rocks were slippery from the navy blue waves crashing against them, but I displayed very little caution; I needed to get to that rock ASAP. “That doesn’t look too slow to me” my grandfather hollered out to me.  Briefly I turned and waved in their direction while continuing on at the same pace. Excitedly hopping from rock to rock I felt my heart immediately drop. My balance had been completely thrown off as a loose stone wobbled and took my feet out from under me. Luckily, there was a large and sturdy foothold a few feet away that I was able to ambitiously jump to. Phewww. That was a close one. Again I looked back, this time my face bright red in embarrassment. Both had witnessed the near fall and were looking at me shaking their heads, but smiling.

Fine, I guess I’ll slow down. I thought to myself. I was almost to the end of the jetty at this point anyways.  I walked at an average pace, making sure each step was secure and safe. Approaching the point I was slightly let down, I wanted to keep going further and further out. Looking out on the horizon I was completely captivated by the sea yet again. It seemed like it went on forever and ever. As I stood still on a flat rock steps away from the point, my dad came up behind me and patted me on the back. “Pretty special” he said. “Really is” I said in agreement. I turned and looked towards my grandfather who was sitting down on a rock, looking inland. “What’s over there”? I asked my dad.  “That’s the harbor right in there, see that light blue building by those docks?” “Sort of” I said, trying to find what he was referencing. He pointed and directed my hand to where his was and said “how bout now?” “Yup, got it!” I said excitedly. “That’s where we went to get lobsters the other day remember?” my dad asked. “Oh, no way, that’s right there? That’s pretty cool, and now I’m really hungry for lobster again” My dad laughed, “did you hear that dad?” he hollered to my grandfather. “The kid likes his lobster huh? I should hope so!” “Could we have it when we get back?” I asked. The two men both laughed. “Well I think your grammie is going to make us some eggs and toast for breakfast but, we’ll see what we can do about dinner. We gotta’ make sure you get a good dinner on your last night here!” “YESSSSS!” I said pumping my fist in the air. “Sweet deal! Tell grampie thank you, that’s awfully nice of him” my dad said as I danced around on the rocks. “Thank you thank you thank you Grampie!” “You got it, pal.”

Seconds later my attention quickly shifted from daydreaming of lobster, to a boat that was flying out of the harbor. “Look at this thing, how big you think that is? My grandfather asked as he walked towards us. “That’s a serious unit, gotta be 46, maybe 48” my dad replied as the boat rapidly became easier to see. The boat was relatively far away from the jetty, but the engines were roaring and we all watched as the vessel cruised into open water. “Might want to back up buddy, that thing is going to throw a big wake” my dad suggested. “But we’re all the way over here” I said, somewhat unconcerned. I watched as both my Grampie and dad backed up and reluctantly followed suit. “There’s no way a wave from that would even reached us, plus that big rock would block it”. Just as the words came out of my mouth a handful of continuous massive waves crashed against the point and sprayed everything in its way, including the section of rocks we were just standing. There was a silence for a few seconds followed by an uproar of laughter. Maybe these guys knew what they were talking about after all.

As we walked back to shore my dad and grandfather were still fixated on the boat. “That thing was a beauty” my dad said. “Sure was, you gotta get yourself one like that someday” my grandfather said. I ran ahead of them and jumped off the jetty doing a 360 spin and landing on the sand. “Quite the jump buddy, are you dunking yet?!” my grandfather joked. “Not yet, but I can touch net!” I said enthusiastically. “That’s great, you’ll be getting rim in no time, and then, the rest will be history. When is your next big game? Grammie and I want to come and see you play.”  I couldn’t remember so I asked my dad. “You’ve got 2 coming up this week, Thursday and Saturday. But, they should be in the playoffs this year in a couple of weeks.” my dad said turning to my grandfather. “We’ll still be up here this weekend, but let us know the dates of the playoffs when they get closer, we want to see the young super star.” my grandfather’s words gave me the warmest feeling, and a deep desire to make him proud.

 

Long way home

We started on our walk back as my Grampie led the way this time. He was humming a peaceful melody over and over that sounded very relaxing. As we continued on, I thought of asking what the song was, but assumed he may just be making up the tune on the fly. “Do you want to take the shortcut back to the camp, or walk along the water this time?” my grandfather asked. “This is good, I like walking near the water!”  My dad was bringing up the rear as it looked like he was stopping every few feet to pick up rocks. After a few minutes, he caught up to us. “Got some skippers, boys” he outstretched his hands and showed us the collection of flat edged rocks he had collected. Also mixed in his palms were a few pieces of sea glass. My Grampie was excited as he said “Ohhh boy, good idea” as he began to look for some rocks himself. “Want some buddy?” my dad said extending his hands.  

For some reason, I was unreasonably nervous about skipping rocks. It wasn’t that I couldn’t do it, I just knew they were much better at it, and that intimidated me. Still, I absolutely wanted to try. It was a good nervous. The nervous you get before a big basketball game. Or the kind I presumed a big rock-star would get before a performance. I took two rocks out of his hand and left the rest for him. He fired away his first throw at the ocean- four big, high soaring skips, followed by a few more dribbling quickly at the end. “How many was that?!” I asked, impressed with his throw. He shrugged, “I lost count at the end” he said nonchalantly.  “I wish I could do that, I can only get 2 or 3 usually, you got like 7”! “You can do it too buddy! my dad said encouraging me. Here let’s see what you got. Here’s a really good one.” He handed me a long, thin rock that looked perfect for skipping. As he handed it to me I felt how light it was, “You sure you don’t want this one?” I asked him, scared I would waste it by only getting one or two skips. “All yours pal, give ‘er a rip!”

I clenched the rock tightly, again feeling apprehensive. As I released, it felt good, really good. It felt like we might get to see some serious “skippedge” with this one. One, two, and with the nearing third skip it dropped into the ocean abruptly. “Darn, only two stinken skips… I knew it” I thought to myself. “Awesome throw bud! You fired that thing” my dad exclaimed. His excitement was startling to me as I thought the throw was a total let down. “Yeah I whipped it but I only got 2 skips”. That doesn’t matter, you had the right angle on it, it just caught an edge. You keep humming it in there like that, you’ll start to see more skips.” “You think so?” I questioned. “I know so, buddy.”

As I continued to try and try to skip the rocks with all my might, I kept falling short. Each time a measly 2 or 3 skips, and sometimes none at all. Enviously I watched my dad and grandfather as they skipped them with such ease. Becoming frustrated I picked up a massive rock that I knew had no chance of skipping and chucked it furiously into the ocean. “ZERO, I got zero!” I yelled, making fun of myself. The two laughed but quickly realized by my demeanor that I was actually upset. My grandfather came over towards me. I knew it was just stupid rocks but for some reason I felt ashamed, I just wanted to be as good as them.

“What’s goin’ on over here pal? What’d the ocean ever do to you?” He said smiling.  “I know” I said with my head staring at the dark brown sand . “You guys just make it look so easy”. “Wanna know a secret? Don’t worry about what we’re doing, or how many skips we’re getting, it doesn’t matter. Just throw it buddy, and enjoy what YOU are doing. Remember what you’re dad said the other day when we went golfing? Just relax and swing easy, don’t think so much- that kinda thing?” “Yeah I remember, it actually worked too” “It did right?! My grampie said. “The same thing is true here, just don’t think so much buddy”.

 

“ I just feel like it’s harder than you guys make it seem”. “Well, we’ve also been doing it a little longer than you buddy, how old are you now 13”?  “Yeah 13 and a half”. “13 and a half, jeez,what I would do to be 13 again. Well, we’ve been skipping rocks much much longer than you’ve even been alive so, you’ve got plenty of time to catch up and pass us.” “I’m just gunna stop, I just know I won’t be able to get more than a few, there’s no point, skipping rocks is stupid anyways”. “Hey, easy there. You’ve tried a few times sure, but you’re just going to quit that easily? Hate to tell you buddy but there’s gunna be a lot of things in life much more aggravating than skipping rocks. Quit if you’d like but I know you can do it, just a matter of time.”

His words hit me deeply as he walked away . The last thing I wanted to be was a quitter. I watched as he approached my dad who was now higher on the beach, away from the water. He was slowly strolling back and forth searching for more rocks, or maybe beach glass. I admired my dad more than anyone in the world. It seemed like he somehow always found a way to make things work out , regardless of situation. I stood still for a moment, watching the two men talk and search. As I did so, my grandfather’s advice echoed in my head. Focusing on them wasn’t going to do me any good right now. In the sake of trying, I separated myself to the far end of the beach, still within sight, but far away from the men. Here, I wouldn’t be distracted, and maybe would figure out this whole skipping thing.

“Don’t think, just throw- don’t think, just throw” replayed in my head like a broken record as I whipped the rocks at the dark blue ocean. The irony of course, was that the more I told myself not to think, the more I thought, and the more I thought… the worse the results. Two skips, then one, two again, zero, one, zero. I kicked the slightly wet sand hard as I let out a frustrated sigh. It was getting ridiculous at this point. I was throwing in the towel,I had had enough. I felt defeated, but now more than anything all I  really wanted to do was get back to the cottage, and have some eggs for breakfast. Eggs and toast sounded amazing right now, and I still couldn’t stop salivating over the thought of lobster later tonight. As I began walking towards the other end of the beach, I shook around the two stones that were remaining in my palms like a pair of dice.

Letting out a loud “wooooo!” I hoisted the first rock into the ocean as far and hard as I could. It felt like I was an outfielder throwing out a runner at home plate. The small rock nearly hit a weathered orange buoy that was bobbing half above water. I envisioned being able to skip a rock so well that I could have it reach and hit that buoy. How cool would that be? Casually, as I began to walk towards the men I half-heartedly flung the the final rock towards the water.  Then, something beautiful happened. All of a sudden, I saw the rock doing what it was supposed to, it kept going. Three, Four, Five!before fading into the ocean. I couldn’t believe it. Sure it hadn’t hit the buoy, but that thing sure skipped. Another loud “wooo!” was heard, this time from my dad, followed by clapping and smiling from my grandfather. Running towards them I felt accomplished, and I felt alive. And I now felt like I had truly earned my breakfast, it was time to go eat. 

 

Must be in a good place now

“ Knew you could do it buddy” my dad said to me as he put his arm around me . “Thanks for not letting me quit” I said to the two men as we turned the final corner towards the cottage. “That was all you, not me, not your dad, you decided to keep going” my grandfather said. Smiling, I looked up towards the “camp” as the family called it,  that had been built and maintained by the very hands of the two guys next to me. If I could grow up to be half the men either of these guys were, I’d be just fine.

As we approached the uphill steps leading  to the cottage, I noticed what looked to be some sort of stick crashing into the shore. “Wait up just a second” I said, as I ran towards the ocean.  Stepping into the water slightly I pulled the object out of the water. It was some sort of wooden stake, that was relatively heavy, with a sharp edge. This was it. This was the walking stick i had been searching for. It had literally washed up into my arms, I felt like I had won the lottery. I held it up next to myself, and realized it was pretty big, but I didn’t care, I would grow into it. “It’s the kids lucky day!” my grandfather hollered from the top of the steps. Again, I find myself running in excitement, this time up the steps to show and tell my grammie about the amazing morning .

My grammie was sitting on the porch in her chair and greeted me with a big hug. “How was your walk with the boys?!” she asked.  “It was great, look!” I showed off the stake I had just found that was still soaking wet. “Oh wow, I think I might have something for you” she said excitedly as she rushed inside. As I waited for her to return, I heard my grandfather singing from the side yard in the same melody he had been humming before. This time with words accompanying the peaceful tune “Oh what a good day to go fishing, and catch the sunset in the hills”.

Quickly thereafter the screen door hit me lightly on the back. “ Oh I’m sorry honey, but this is for you, let me know if you like it.” She first handed me a thick tri-colored line. Then, she pulled out of her pocket a few smaller strings and two white feathers . “Now, you can make it your own, this is just a start, you’ll find other things that you want to add throughout your travels.” I didn’t know what to say. I knew the feathers had come from her very own walking stick and I felt honored. “Really? Are you sure grammie?” “Absolutely” she replied. “ Thank you so much!” I said giving her another hug. “Now, most importantly, I’m going to start making breakfast so how do you want your eggs?” “Usually I like them scrambled, but can you make them how you did yesterday?” “Poached?You got it, dear” she replied and headed back inside.

I sat down on my grammies rocking chair outside and began to wrap the red, yellow, and white line around the stick to make a handle. Even though we had just returned,  I already wanted to go back out for another walk to try this thing out. “That looks like it’s going to make a strong grip!” my grandfather said as he stepped onto the porch and pulled up a seat next to me. Nodding excitedly back at him I feverishly tried to wrap the line as tightly as possible. I wanted it to be just right, just like this morning, everything seemed just right. The sun shined in my eyes as I looked out at the rays glimmering and dancing on the gentle waves in front of us. “Can’t beat this huh grampie?” My grandfather held his gaze towards the vast landscape and replied strongly . “ If I make it to heaven, I hope it comes with this view”


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