Froth filled waves licked my ankles. It was just 10am, but the sun shone brighter than I ever thought it could. It reflected on the water until my sister became a glistening blur of colours and smiles. I liked her that way. The beach was still empty at that hour on a Sunday– it was as if the entire sea was ours to keep, the tide dancing at the tips of our fingers. We danced with it.
And in the midst of all the frolicking and salt water splashing, my eyes flickered to my mum. She sat on the blanket under our umbrella, not because the sun’s beauty was too much for her, but because hers would have been too much for the sun. But her eyes weren’t focused up there anyway. Or on the coast’s rugged cliffs or the crystal blue sky. Instead, they stared into a screen.
I bit my tongue at first, held it in, waited for her to realise. She didn’t. Most people don’t.
“Put the phone down, Mum.”
“Why?” She asked, the line of her furrowed eyebrows grazing the tops of her sunglasses, shielding her gaze from me. I didn’t need to see – I could picture what it looked like. “What else am I supposed to do?”
I must have rolled my eyes in typical teenager fashion, but I tattooed the line somewhere onto my brain for a later date.
Had I replied, she would have laughed anyway. Because the real answer to her question was: nothing. She didn’t need to jump up and dive headfirst into the water or start jogging along the shore. She didn’t need to busy her fingers in making a sandcastle or dig a hole in which to bury my dad – that could come later.
All she needed was to look up, allow her eyes to wander, let the saltwater breeze waft through her nose until the stress of the week before drifted away, soon becoming little more than a distant memory. All she needed was to sit and feel the ripples of sand across her feet, feel the strength of her legs beneath her.
All she needed was to be.
Life doesn’t always have to be about finding something to do. It isn’t about planning out every second. It’s about using every second, taking each moment to inhale and exhale and remember everything you love about the humble little life you’re living. The intensity of that first sip of coffee in the morning and the smell of the lavender bush you walk past every day. The animal shaped clouds and the way the strings of your guitar echo in the evening – all that you miss if your eyes are focused elsewhere. All that you miss if you make your life a constant cycle of doing, and craving, and doing some more.
Sometimes nothing can be everything.