Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Quest for the Elusive Perfect Sand Dollar

Today, I decided to embark on an adventure. It was going to be an adventure day! I had quite a few ideas percolating in my mind. Last night my friend talked about her experiences of collecting sand dollars on the beach. That idea stuck out to me, so I went for it.  

I thought about what to wear to this sand dollar collecting adventure, and went for a t-shirt and a pair of running shorts. I laced up my shoes...and quickly realized I didn't need my shoes as I would be walking on the sand. The idea came into my mind to run barefoot while looking for sand I put on my rainbow sandals and I was good to go. 

I got in my car and drove over to the beach, a 4-5 mile drive from home. It was a scenic drive, filled with views of farmland, grazing cows, and passing cyclists on the road. I got to the beach and parked Marco. I put my wallet + phone in my glove compartment. I slipped off my rainbows and threw them in the back seat. I got out and started walking on the amazing black sand. Each time you take a step in it, it's as if your foot is pressing into memory foam. 

I got to the tide's edge and touched the water. Nor Cal beaches are COLD!! I felt my foot getting numb from the water---similar to all ocean triathlons I have done. I put one foot in front of the other and started trudging along. I got about 30 feet before I saw this shell that looked amazing. I decided to grab it, so I drew a big circle around it with a piece of nearby driftwood. I kept going and found a 1/4 of a sand dollar...I liked this also so I also drew a circle around it. I kept going, and kept up a good pace. 

I looked around and saw a lady walking her dog, as well as a fisherman probably hunting for a crab. Aside from them, the vast beach was all mine. 

I kept walking along and noticed quite a few exoskeletons of crabs, such as these: 

I was focused on the sand. It was neat seeing a mix of rocks, drift wood, beach glass, sand dollars, and exoskeletons along the beach. It made it almost a game to look through everything to find a sand dollar. I kept running along the beach.

The sand dollars that I found were partial ones. They had been broken off by the waves or from their adventures in the ocean. 

In my mind, I compared the partial sand dollars to goals that we set for ourselves. There are many goals/plans that we have in our lives. Our dedication to that goal shows the fullness of that goal. Most goals we do not have our whole heart in, they are not what we focus on 100%. The few that we do focus completely on...are full. 

I also compared the sand dollars to people in our lives. True friends are hard to come by, much like a complete sand dollar. There are many friends...many sand dollars out there. There are only a select few that can be considered true. 

After these thoughts came to me, I decided I was going to embark on a quest to find "the elusive perfect sand dollar"!!! It was at this point (after 3 miles of running up the beach) where I focused intently and slowed down my pace so that I could focus better. It was at this point where I enjoyed myself so much more--because I slowed down to take everything in. If you let it happen, our lives will pretty much go on auto-pilot. We look for the quickest way to do things without really getting maximum enjoyment out of it. This is where I turned off my switch and actually lived in the moment. 

It was SO FUN!! There were sand dunes on the beach that I was navigating, I was jumping over driftwood. I felt like a kid playing at the beach! I ran along looking for the the better of the three deposits of assorted beach items. There was one deposit that was closest to the water, another one a little bit further up, and one way up on the beach. I would go back and forth looking for which one had the most white (shells and sand dollars). I collected about 7 sand dollars and found a big shell to put them in. I got about 5 more after and found a bigger shell to put them all in. I was like a hermit looking for a bigger home. 

After about 15 partial sand dollars I picked up what looked like another partial. When I picked it up, part of it was covered with sand and a perfect full sand dollar appeared in front of my eyes. I was really excited. I found a place for it amongst my other sand dollars. Upon closer inspection, I saw a small hole on the front. IT WAS NOT PERFECT!! It was almost perfect, but not quite. I decided this was the best I was going to do for today, and headed back. I found two other sand dollars on the way back that also had small holes. But they were perfect in my eyes. Perhaps perfection is merely an illusion? Maybe there really is no such thing as "perfect."

I walked along the water, thoroughly enjoying my time on this beautiful beach. I stumbled upon a piece of driftwood that would be perfect for a game of "catch." My neighbor's dog loves to play catch with me...probably because I have more patience than his owner does. Animals really intrigue me, especially dogs who get so much enjoyment out of a game of catch. I picked up the driftwood, and added it to my growing pile:

I got back to my car and put my sand dollars, shells and piece of driftwood inside. I decided it would be a shame to leave I decided to take it all in again. 

I walked back to the beach and just watched the waves crash along the beach. I watched the owners and dogs that had arrived to walk. I admired the sky--which was cloudy. It was cloudy all along the coast except for a mile out. All along the coast the sun was shining...but not on the land. Looking at the sky it was a great mix of turquoise, sky blue, white, and just about every shade of blue and white you can imagine. I was truly happy to be alive at that moment. Sometimes you get caught up in everything you have to do...that you don't really stop to admire, experience, and be motivated by what is in front of you.

I started to walk back when I stumbled upon this:

At first, I thought it might be a whale bone or another sea creature. I examined it for a couple minutes..and came to the conclusion it must be a cow bone. There are many farms around the beach, so maybe a farmer got really attached to a cow and decided to leave this here. Who knows?

I got back home and there was my neighbor's dog! He was playing catch with a tennis ball that a passer-by HSU girl threw at him a couple times. I threw him the piece of driftwood and he left the tennis ball and ran with all he could toward the driftwood. He LOVED it! I was out there for about 20 minutes with him playing catch---enjoying it too! 

On my quest for "the elusive perfect sand dollar" I never really found a "perfect one". I ultimately found one that I deemed to be perfect. I found the below piece of artwork as I walked back to my car. In the many that have tried, I wonder how many have found a true "perfect" sand dollar.  
Perhaps we will be looking forever? Or for "infinity" as the above symbol made up of partial sand dollars suggests?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Rainy Day Man #1

Today marks the first day of rain in this city...the first that I have experienced in my close to two weeks here. This city fits me perfectly. It is a city of redwoods that is right on the beach. I live in between them!

Deciding upon a future graduate school was no easy task. I applied to over 20 schools!! It was a lengthy process--taking (& studying for) the GRE, filling out application after application, finding ways to articulate my life in short Statement of Purposes, asking professors for letters of recommendation, and so on. I am glad the process is over, yet I'm sure I will be doing the same two years from now. HSU will be a gateway for me. A gateway to a greater future. I'm considering Law School or perhaps another Masters after my experiences in Arcata.

It's difficult to pick up everything and move to "the unknown." I know only a handful of people in this city (one of which is traveling via bike across the country!!) This girl is absolutely amazing! In these last few weeks, I have established myself within the city, and have been welcomed by its great people. I have met many GREAT people along this journey to my new home. I have also explored many of the trails that are in my backyard. 

I have visited this area many times before. This may have influenced my decision to move here. I loved every visit I had here. My family used to camp in the redwoods, typically Richardson's Grove State Park. Those experiences I treasure. 

This blog will bring insight as to my life in this secluded city. I will blog about my dilemma from moving from a big city to a small one, my experiences in graduate school, and my summer of FUN! :D

I am rainy day man, about to go get wet in this rain. I'm off for a run!