The beach is an intriguing place. I've found myself there many times throughout any given year looking for joy, solace or anything to make me feel something. It's kind of funny how infectious one place can be depending on the amount of sun cloaking the sand and surf.
When the skies are clear and deep blue, painted with wispy, cirrus clouds, the sand is soft and welcoming. Every wave moves in a certain special way to provoke instant smiles. It attracts most people to shed their sadness and inhibitions, along with their clothes. Those are the days when tragedy is rare because everyone devotes them to sheer, unadulterated happiness.
Days like today are when the beach is lonely. The scene is cast in a flawless grayscale only the strongest of wills and most effervescent jubilance hoped to conquer. The welcoming glow of the sand sank beneath the bedrock below. It didn't feel like a soft sheet, but rather fresh concrete that will temporarily hold on to the impression of the last person to walk on it. Each wave ebbs and flows between calm and treacherous. Happiness isn't the goal at this beach.
Most people only come here looking for answers to their questions that cannot be found in another person. There's no voice speaking out, even if they aren't alone. The only thing that comes close to speaking is the sound of the winds and the waves and the whispers of the mists blanketing the surface.
I think today must be one of those rare exceptions because nothing can ruin today for me. A cold, misty New Year's Day on the beach doesn't mean anything to me, because I don't need any sort of metaphysical or self-directed response. It could be sunny and 75 and it won't matter. Today, my spirit is stronger than whatever promise this place can give.
Today, the only contagious thing on this beach is me, hopefully.
I plan to go viral the old-fashioned way, because today, someone will come here looking for answers like I once did, like many other people since this beach was first settled. Someone will be looking here for their "New Year, New Me" moment, but really, all they need is to embrace themselves.
The tides are wild right now, so I know my message will quickly rebound from the water. My footsteps to the elemental boundary are recorded in the foamy earth from when I tossed a clear, corked wine bottle off of the shore. However, they aren't alone because all of the season's question and answer sessions leave my presence as a mere riddle.
This beach is perfect because of all of the secluded spots to just hang back and admire the sight, unseen without any sort of effort. I want to make sure someone gets it. I hope this time the hardest question is answered with a simple note.
My day is dedicated to this. I may be alone, but my words, my sentiments won't be. This rickety, paint-chipped picnic table is all of the comforts I need on what should be a gloomy and depressing start to the year. The stories etched into the wood have kept me entertained as I monitor the shoreline to see if my bottle has returned and if anyone will even be able to find it.
It's been about an hour of inspecting and thinking if the carved hearts on the table are still true. The bottle has washed up into a set of old footprints, perfect to be found. But finally, a couple of someones have come seeking answers. They look like friends or lovers who may approach, if not fit into, the all-important 18-24 demographic. Okay, that might not be all important because that's what the media and advertisers say is important. This bottle is meant for whoever needs it.
Both of them looked like they were here for different reasons. One sunk their feet in the sand, with the mission to play. Their jubilance could bring out the sun. The other walked toward the water, notably less than joyful than their companion. This was indeed my person.
This person spotted the bottle resting close to the now calming waves. I hope I didn't put the cork in too deep, just enough to keep their note air-tight but still can be opened on site. Thankfully as they removed the last barrier to their message, the sun cracked through the overcast clouds to reveal the sky. As they removed the note, the two people reunited to regale at the page and I turned to leave the beach.
As I walked away, I recited the note with every step: "If you're reading this, hopefully, you are having the time of your life, if not, hopefully, this can give you the words you need. Normally, these bottles come with directions for some kind of treasure to find. Luckily for you, you're looking at the treasure, hell, you are the treasure.
"All of our days here are limited and we are reserved to our own number. Time is special because it only belongs to whoever is holding it at any particular moment. It's more precious than money or any kind of material object. Our own time and energy isn't something to be manufactured or purchased.
"Taking care of yourself, not giving away all of your time to everyone and everything around you is important. The day you stop looking at yourself in the mirror shouldn't be the moment something is wrong. The writing on the wall shouldn't read of your own self-destruction, because this trigger will be the time everything falls apart.
"You are capable of making the right decisions, like reading this note, opening the bottle and going to the beach. You chose to spend your time here, and you chose well.
"Always take care of yourself, take care of your health, and take care of your happiness. All three make every second worth it. It's not selfish to think about yourself at the end of the day since you're only useful to what you avail yourself to. Remember these words and share them with everyone you care about or whomever you want.
"I can't tell you how much time I wasted ripping myself to shreds until I wrote this letter. It's never too late, and I've never regretted making this decision, and I hope neither do you. If this letter works for you, share it, your experiences and write your own letter to throw in the water. You've already got the bottle.
I didn't need to see their reaction, only resting on my own blind faith that this note may have made a difference in their lives. The environment is too noisy for me to hear them, but I don't need to. My task here is done and it couldn't have ended in a more perfect way.