Sometimes I wonder how much work will go into this being a father thing? There are times when I think that the task will be overwhelming and there are times when I think it will be a like a day at the beach. My guess is a it will be a little bit of both. I’m sure I won’t always be able to take off for three hours like I did this morning for a long bike ride on the lakefront and a nice swim at the beach. I’m okay with that change though. I’ve pretty much been able to do whatever I want whenever I want for most of my life.
So about that swim at the lakefront? This morning I once again returned to my favorite beach on Chicago’s lakefront – the Hollywood beach at the extreme north end of the city. Hollywood beach is not served by any nearby parking lot so the crowds are often much smaller than the other Chicago beaches. That little matter is specially important on a busy weekend like this one with Air and Water Show in town. Hollywood beach also has an unusually gradual slope for a lakefront beach. Whereas most Lake Michigan beaches drop off drastically a short distance out from the shore, Hollywood beach is no more than knee deep for 25 yards, waist deep out to 50 yards and it only gets over my head deep when I’m about 100 yards out. The sand is quite soft for non-oceanfront sand and the water is especially clear because there are almost no rip currents. Combine all that with the fact that my mom and dad lived in a high-rise right along the shore of this particular beach when I was born, and Hollywood beach has a very special place in my heart.
This morning there was a special magic to my first plunge. I was at the tail end of a two hour ride. It was hotter than it has been for the last few weeks. The water temperature was a near perfect 74 degrees. The water was still and unusually clear. I splashed around for about ten minutes and then walked back up onto the shore and basked in the sun of a crystal clear Chicago morning. I could even feel a special tingle in the energy of the day. Maybe it was the pre-eclipse energy and maybe it was some nostalgia, but I felt close to a number of spirit beings I like to talk to that are part of my past like my father and my grandparents and a few of my other Angels on the other side of the veil.
I stood in the sunshine with my eyes closed and held my arms out as far as I could to my sides with my palms facing upwards towards the heavens as I took in long, slow, nourishing breaths. I tilted my head back just enough to feel the rays of the sun hitting every part of my face and I lifted my heart center up a little higher by pushing my chest forward. I’m not totally sure if I was in this standing trance for a few seconds or a few minutes, but I am sure that I looked equal parts interesting and equal parts crazy to any of the handful of people that were nearby.
My trance was broken by the sounds of birds screeching and wings flapping and a young girl yelling at the top of her lungs. When I opened my eyes there were a few dozen seagulls swarming around precariously close to my standing body – which must have made the whole scene look closer to the crazy side of the scale than the interesting side to anyone watching from the distance by the way!
If you’ve ever been snapped quickly out of a deep meditation before, you know it sort of feels like waking up in the middle of the night to a smoke detector or a tornado siren going off. The contrast between the reality that you are traveling through in your dreams vs. the illusion that is unfolding in your current human experience is so paramount that it takes a few breaths your brain to start processing information. Yes, I did in fact say the dream was the reality and the waking state was the illusion but that’s a topic for a different blog post.
Anyways, over the next few breaths my brain began to process the scene of seagulls swarming around my body and what looked to be a mom and her three daughters set up on a beach blanket about 20 feet away from me. The youngest girl must have been less than two years old. She had white blonde hair and was playing in the sand without a care in the world while staring up at the birds and laughing. Her middle sister, who I would guess must have been about five, was running after the birds much like I would suspect my wife Christiana must have done countless times in her own youth because I’ve seen her do it as an adult a number of times as well. The middle sister had long, wavy sand colored hair and she was carrying a bag of pretzels that she was throwing at the seagulls in an effort to get them to come closer to her. Wherever the pretzels landed a group of gulls would dive down and try to be the first to seize the new offering. The middle sister seemed at ease with the energy of the moment and moved much like her wavy hair moved in the wind. The oldest of the three sister must have been about nine or ten and had darker brown hair; the same color as her mother who was sitting on her blanket reading a magazine as the whole story was unfolding. The older sister had a much different body energy than her two, younger, more carefree sisters.
Over the next few breaths as I came more back into my post-meditative state, I noticed that the oldest sister was picking up rocks and throwing them at the seagulls while screaming at the top of her lungs, “Get away from us!” Each time a flock would swarm down to seize one of then newly tossed pretzels, the older sister would flinch and hunch down closer to the sand as if trying to take cover. She would then bounce up and run at the gulls and throw another rock while her sister tossed out more pretzel bait behind her back. I couldn’t help but stand there and smile at the whole scene unfolded with the carefree white haired girl, the totally distracted mom and the two very different sisters. As I stood there with a smile on my face and the sun shining down on my whole self I was reminded of something I’ve thought a number of times in the past:
“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could live out all of our days with the same pure and organic connection to all that IS that we are born with…”
I’ve long been a fan of looking up the symbolism of animal spirit guides when a certain animal crosses my path and I take particular notice of the situation. I can think of times in the past when a cardinal, or a hawk, or a coyote, or deer meant so much more than the surface of the situation might have suggested. When I looked up the meaning of a seagull spirit animal crossing your path one of the best explanations I found was this:
“When a seagull flies across your path, it’s time to take a new perspective on things. Take a step back and look at the scene through a different lens. Soar above the drama of your own emotional boundaries and find creative new ways to move forward…”
As Christiana and I get ready to begin our journey as parents I’m reminded that the lens we choose to view our lives through is our choice. Where we live or what we do to provide sustenance or which circles of people move in and out of our lives or how we choose to persevere and protect ourselves are all fluid things. Some days may feel like laughing in the sand, some days we will dive for pretzels and some days may even be filled with a few rocks. If all the days of our lives can be lived with the reminder that to be young at heart is to live as close to the IS as is humanly possible….then I’m pretty sure this Fatherhood thing is going to be like a day at the beach!