Yet another reminder that all the things we want to be constant slip away, and we are in a constantly changing reality. Even this smallish tropical storm drastically changed the beach.
On the beach you are more acutely aware of the vulnerability of our existence and the need to constantly adapt to new realities. It’s true everywhere, but on the beach it’s heightened. A tropical storm comes through and sand is rearranged, dunes and signs are gone, walkovers are destroyed, and a chunk of pier is sitting on the sand. And that was just a tropical storm!
We find ourselves angry and resistant at times to this. Outraged that our lives are interrupted. Feeling helpless that with all our buildings, machines, and giant egos that we can’t do anything about it. Other times, we are different. We roll with it, understanding that we can control some things and not others. Some even find a certain beauty in letting go. Pema Chodron is quoted saying, “Impermanence is a principle of harmony. When we don’t struggle against it, we are in harmony with reality”.
That concept of living in the reality of today is important. Its exemplified by many of the older surfers, fishers, beachcombers, and others who are tied closely to the water and sand. Even thinking about my Grandma, who was a beach person, like her mother before her. She lived so simply, and I think that helped her adapt to an ever-changing reality even as she aged. When she died, a good friend of mine and I cleaned out her apartment in a couple of hours. Her footprints were so light, but she was so powerful and present.
Galveston is entering a new phase. I know when we, at the end of the season, assess the beach and tourism activity for the year there will be data to support this. But my guards already feel the difference in beach use. We just hit 285,000 preventative actions for the entire year. These are interventions where we move people away from danger. Last year was our busiest year so far and we only hit about 210,000. By the end of the year we’ll measure this as a year with a 30% increase in the amount of work the Beach Patrol did to keep people safe. More people moved, more rescues, more emergencies at all hours responded to than ever before.
But when we had a staff meeting of our full-time crew and as I looked at the faces of those leaders within our ranks, I saw fatigue, but I didn’t see exhaustion or defeat. They’ve been working so hard but still have plenty left to give. I saw resolve and acceptance of change and new realities. There is satisfaction in being challenged and handling it. And there’s a certain peace and focus that comes with accepting that our world is always changing. The beach is a great teacher.
Awareness of impermanence and appreciation of our human potential will give us a sense of urgency that we must use every precious moment. – Dalai Lama