We looked like quite the sight. I was in my swim suit that made me look fat and, because of that, I looked like a naked lion that was sleep deprived, stumbling and falling all throughout the sand on this island trying to make my way to the water. The first person looking at me would have noticed my huge smile and my fierce hair flying all about my back and neck and whipping me in the face. My foot was cut at the ankle from trying to get out of the boat like a normal person, but what can I say? I’m not normal; I practically fell out of the boat, and in the process cut my foot open. That didn’t stop me from wanting to adventure across this island and into the sea. It wouldn’t stop my joy. My skin was burning and pink, maybe even more of a red tint and covered in sand. That was a sight of love and happiness.
My sister looked like a grizzly bear drunk on laughter from me falling all over the place. Her skin was completely white, unlike mine, which is ironic considering the fact that I am red headed and she has dark brown hair. Her skin was even lighter in comparison to mine, due to the fact that her bikini was black with touches of light pink, the black contrasting against her skin. This was perhaps the most Delainey and I have ever gotten along, in our entire lives. Probably the same for our mom, as well. Every time I think of the faces of the three of us, all I can see are broad smiles.
We were on an island. It was near the Florida Keys, on the Coast of Mexico. Religious individuals believe that the heavens are above us, somewhere above space and outside of the universe. I disagree. I think that the heavens are surrounding us, they are just disguised by the negativity that so many seem to focus on. Every once in awhile, certain lucky individuals get to walk through the curtains of negativity and see the heavens that surround us, which is what that moment was.
The sky was a perfect shade of blue and the sea immediately under it was a perfect shade of turquoise. The waves as they crashed onto the sandy shore went from dark blue to light blue to a white foam that would bubble and fizz as it crash landed onto the sand. The waves were huge, but since I was coming from South Dakota, they might have just looked huge to me but in reality were fairly small compared to the usual. Coming from somewhere in the middle of the vast continent that we live on, it was other worldly. The sounds were wind but also a bathtub filling up. The feeling was wind whipping my hair across my face, the water throwing itself at me like an old friend, the foaming and fizzing beneath my feet from the sea on the shore. The itchiness of the sand that covered my body that I couldn’t quite manage to get rid of completely. The sweat behind my neck from the sun burning down on me, the feeling of the cool breeze embracing my body. All I could smell was salt. The salt from the ocean and sometimes even up from the ground and up to my nose.
After I was tired of running around endlessly on this wild patch of sand and water, my sister and I decided that we were interested in exploring the other side of this peculiar island. We trudged and struggled over sand mounds to the other side of the island; all along the way encountering what seemed like thousands of hermit crabs and other crabs of all sizes, shapes, and colors. There were a few areas where the ground was covered in little tumbleweed type things but, not quite tumbleweeds, these were more elegant in the ways that they were shaped, more lovely.
Delainey and I had finally managed to make it to the other side of this strange island. When we got there, it was like a whole different place. It wasn’t at all like the other side. Of course, there was the water and the sand, so that much it had in common, but the sand was flat, with no mounds to be seen, and the water was running smooth and in a constant pattern. It was calm and not as chaotic as the other side. The sky was the same. The wind was the same. The smell was the same. The feeling was different. The noise was different. The peculiarities of it all were beautiful.
The aura of this side was something unlike the other; you had to be calm on this side. You had to be quiet. You had to be observant. You had to be appreciative. There were no ifs, ands, or, buts about it. You had to be all of these things, no matter what. No one wouldn’t have been, however, it was almost subconscious. This aura and all of those feelings were something engraved in all human beings from the moment we each took our individual breaths. In moments like this, we all just know.
We were walking down the coast, just as we had been doing before. But in all the ways that we had previously been walking, everything was the exact and polar opposite. We weren’t running. We weren’t shouting. We weren’t being chaotic. In the water my little sister noticed something. It was a light orange but also had lines of white covering its tiny body, which was about the size of my outstretched hand. It was something that I had never seen in person before but was seeing then. It was nothing but a simple, beautiful starfish.
Something as simple as a starfish may not seem like something as prominent in someone’s mind that they would have to write about, but, oddly enough, it was in my mind. My sister picked up the little creature, and I was so afraid she was going to take it completely out of the water and kill it so I yelled at her to keep it somewhat submerged in the water to keep it safe. We held our hands under the cool blue water, and the starfish was walking all over the four hands that were holding it. When it moved across our hands, it felt like a thousand hairs tickling our palms.
I have no idea when this memory took place, in fact, I think this memory is from two different times that I’ve gone to the ocean but somehow my mind has managed to crush them together into one being. It is strange how our minds work. It is strange how they can manipulate thoughts, feelings, memories, and all sorts of other intellectual things and perceive them how they want. I think that the reason that this memory appealed to me so much is because it was a great metaphor for life.
In the vast sea that we live in called the universe, we are given only one life, but who knows? As a buddhist I think that we are given more than one life. But in that life we have to live in that one life, as a being you can only stay on your island, and if you try to leave, eventually you will drown if you don’t turn back to who you really are, or metaphorically go back to the island that you are given. Life is confusing: at one moment things could be like a quiet, calm ocean. But then you stumble over a few mounds of sand; as soon as you get over those sand mounds suddenly, out of nowhere it seems, you are being pushed and shoved in every direction you can think of by the wind, you are being slapped in the face by sand and can’t get it off of your body and then of course, on top of everything else, you fall into the raging sea of emotions.
This sea of emotions has waves that can be taller than you, and we have all experienced this. The waves shove you down, they push, they pull, they hit, they kick, they yell, and they overpower you. This emotion of sea can run along the lines of depression, anxiety, anger, fear, heartbreak, and many more in between. However, we always remember how to swim, how to fight, how to conquer. Some people forget how to swim, and they let their demons in the water convince them to drown; and they drown. We drag ourselves onto the shore and let the sand itch us some more, we stand up, we take a step, we crawl over sand mounds, and then we are back on the other side of the island where we finally feel better. You feel happy again, you feel yourself, you feel whole, you feel yourself, you feel at peace, you feel yourself, you feel one with the universe, you feel yourself.
Heaven is a place on earth. Heaven is our lives that we have the opportunity to live. If we think about the things that everyone goes through, there is the good and then there is the evil. But looking back at these little islands of life that we are given, we reflect on our life like the memory that I had of this island and we see that overall, the journey was beautiful. The cut on my foot didn’t stop me from wanting to go out and live on the wild side.
Sometimes these cuts and bruises are more than cuts and bruises, but they tell a story, a story of how we lived. When we really look back on it all, there is good to the wild and there is evil to the wild, there is good to the peace and there is evil to the peace. That is why it is all so beautiful. The island that we are given in the vast sea and the life that we are given in this vast universe are something that can’t be explained, but we have no choice but to live and love. Those are our only options in this wild and chaotic thing we all call life.