“Wait for it…. wait for it!” coaches my fair-haired, three year old niece on the windswept, wintry beach. Each word is drawn out, steeped in suspense, with an “only if you dare” lilt and pitch. “It” is the climbing tide, a wave all lacy and smooth; spume-covered surf that arcs from the deep and chases little feet up sandy embankment into the edge of a dune. Sea grass waves behind her, billowing in the seascape breeze. The briny ocean rollers break and pound 100 yards out. She is respectful of the crashing waves, with their brawl and roar, but they do not bully her away from her spot in the sand. What has captured her fancy is the self-imposed test of staying in one spot as long as she can before hurtling headlong, screeching hysterically, up the slope to safety, just in the nick of time. I’m amazed she has the guts to wait until the crest is critically close. In fact, she can’t always build up the speed she needs to outrun some waves, so watchful parent hands scoop and swing her skyward, to her even greater delight. Only a child can make a game of outrunning the sea and a good soaking.
I have heard her enthusiastic challenge-phrase in my head many a time since that December day. It never fails to bring a smile to my lips, and a little more oxygen into my clenched lungs when the cheery soundtrack plays. It seems to get cued when I am contemplating an unknown that looms large before me. So much in this life rolls, roils and towers when it’s 100 yards out, intimidating the heck out of me. But what if I were to harness some of that hysteria and try some daring of my own here at the coastline of my fears and future? Why not dig my toes into the sand a little further and stand my ground, rather than heading for higher ground prematurely? What’s the worst that can happen? I get a little soaked? Or maybe, since I too have a Father who keeps watch, I might just find a way to savor this moment in the sun and the surging surf.
kpeterson february 2013