Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Brooding at the Beach

You never know when the classics will come to mind.

Lounging by the shore last week, I watched a father with a huge smile throw open his arms to greet a small child who'd stumbled happily back from his play at the water's edge. It made me think about Odysseus, the voyager, and Penelope, awaiting his return.

Does the prospect of participating in a collective (and generally benign) reenactment of life's endless cycle of departure and reunion contribute at all to the primal allure of day at the beach?

We head off to the waves, filled with bravado or trepidation, there to find an adventure—maybe it's big swells or cold water, jellyfish or the company of unknown swimmers. Later we trudge up the sand, returning to our blankets—exhilarated? shivering? self-conscious?—and the people we’ve come with watch us come home.

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