The bike ride to the beach was hard on the sweltering August afternoon, but it was satisfying to push myself, to fly down the narrow asphalt path to Sciasconset Beach. My family had arrived on Nantucket that morning after a long, arduous four-hour drive, followed by a two-hour ferry ride on rough seas, and I was anxious to stretch my legs. It was overcast, not a perfect beach day, and I saw only one other person on the path.
When I finally arrived on the beach, I leaned my bike against a dune, and took off my shoes and socks. The white sand and smooth gray pebbles burned my feet as I hopped toward the water. When I got down to the water, I stripped off my shirt, and hurled it toward the beach. I dove into the frigid, but refreshing water, and my stomach scraped the sand and pebbles that lay hidden beneath the surface. When I surfaced, I turned to face the monolithic summer houses that lined the beach, sitting just behind the gigantic, gray dunes that stretched to the horizon on both sides. The undertow tugged at my ankles and I turned again and sat facing out past the monochromatic gray seas, to the horizon. I turned my head and scanned the beach and the sea before me. It all seemed to go on forever, to travel endlessly outward.
It dawned on me then that I was just a tiny speck, a grain of sand on the endless beach of life. I thought of how many years it had taken to grind giant boulders and mountains into the sand I sat on, and how short my life was compared to that. Life begins and ends constantly, but the cycle of the Earth goes on forever. Mountains are formed and crumble into dust, only to form and rise again. I tried to skip stones to get my mind off it, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was so small, so insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
Suddenly, a flock of birds flew over the water in front of me. There was a large bird in front, followed by five smaller birds. It was a mother followed by her children. As if on cue they all dove into the water, and three came up with fish wiggling in their beaks. They repeated this until all had caught fish, and then flew off. Watching the birds, I thought that although I may be small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things, I was important too and had an effect on the people around me. I realized that although my physical body may die, I could live on in the memories of others.
I stood, and walked over to my shirt, shook the sand off it and slipped it on. I returned to my bike after once again scorching my feet. Quickly, I brushed the sand off of my feet, and put on my shoes. I got on my bike and pedaled away. I rode more leisurely back to my house where I would have dinner, and then walk into town for ice cream with my family. 1
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.