Storm the Beach!

Photo by Mackenzie Black that reminds me of my childhood.

Photo by Mackenzie Black that reminds me of my childhood.

I was zipping along in my little white car the other day, the sun was shining, the grass along the gravel shoulder was greening, and a warm, springy breeze danced through the open window. All of a sudden I was kissed, clear as anything, with the memory of a feeling that occasionally overwhelmed me when I was a kid playing outside on my grandma’s farm: a fantastic, totally-free, move alive-than-alive, rampaging, powerful, crazy, silly feeling. It was pure happy, the sense of extreme possibility and promise, and the conviction the world was full of good things and future adventure all rolled into one.

More often than not, when the feeling hit, I’d lift whatever stick I was carrying over my head (I was almost always carrying a “staff”) and charge down the nearby hill or into the field’s waist high grass, yelling a mixed roar-cheer: “Arrrrrrrrr!”

When I think back on those bouts of intense delight, a combination of recollections gather, so maybe the feeling was birthed by mingling factors: the smell of sunshine on dirt, the scent of sap from budding trees, the chitter-chat of squirrels, the chirping of birds, the give and take of the ground beneath my bare, calloused feet—and the joy of being enmeshed in whatever epic story I was living out as I trekked around. And something else was a huge contributor, too.

I was always by myself when the feeling hit. I didn’t have any adults, well meaning or otherwise, telling me to “keep it down,” to “be appropriate” or to “not get carried away.” No one asked pointed questions about what I was so happy about anyway, or helpfully outlined the reasons I was wrong or naïve to be feeling wildly joyful and optimistic. There were no kindly suggestions that I manage my expectations so I wouldn’t be disappointed. . . .

I’ve definitely, thankfully, experienced lovely pure-happy as an adult too—but as with a lot of adult emotions, it’s usually more convoluted and layered, a bit shorter lived. I tend to diminish it by analyzing it.

And I’m trying not to do that anymore. I don’t want to squash my growing glee or kill it before it fully blooms. I want to revel in. Enjoy it. Laugh out loud and shake my head and shout with it. Spin down a dirt road with my arms out to my sides ‘til I’m dizzy.

I want to live life. Really live it. I don’t want to put off things I really want to do in the wait for some perceived magic age or stage where I think I’ll have more time, more funds, more clarity, more whatever. . . .

Maybe you need to heed my advice too? If you’re unhappy where you’re at, make changes. If there’s something you really want to do, start doing it sooner rather than later. Will it be difficult? Maybe. Maybe not. In hindsight I always realize the time I’ve spent resisting change I know I need or want is more excruciating than the actual leap ever turns out to be . . . but either way, easy and smooth or a tough uphill climb, the effort is worth it.

A bunch of things came together for me last week. I know why I had the ocean epiphany I wrote about last month, why I’m being surprised by random fits of euphoria, and experiencing deep, peaceful, standout-noticeable moments of happiness these days. I’m being more vocal about what I want, what I believe, and what huge questions, fears, doubts, and insecurities I have. I’m sharing the things I’m excited about, even proud of. I’m making changes. In my thinking. In my doing. In my being.

I haven’t charged down a hill recently, shouting at the top of my lungs, brandishing a stick—but I make no promises about the near future.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

“Storm the Beach!” by me, Ev Bishop, was originally published in the Terrace Standard, April 30, 2014 as my monthly column “Just a Thought.”

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