There is a beach, not that far from where I live, which enjoys relative seclusion. When the weather is nice (not something that happens often in northern climes) it is a good place to stretch one’s legs. The beach itself is uneven and rocky with irregular patches of clear sand but the concrete promenade runs for about two miles fairly close to the sea and is good for brisk walks, of which I am rather fond. If you fancy more of an exercise, there are cliffs to the north and a path which leads up them from that end of the promenade.
I’ve long since given up the need to have people around and I welcome the seclusion of a writer’s life now I have entered (God willing) the second half of my life. Gone is the exuberance, the enthusiasm, the can-do attitude and the ability to burn candles not just at both ends but in the middle too – characteristics of youth which seem to be requisite these days. Now it is all I can do to get up each morning and put in a couple of hours of writing as the sun rises in my little writing shed at the end of the garden.
No one told me, in those frivolous days of youth, that when the wisdom and calm acceptance of life I so eagerly sought would finally come, I would lose energy and joie de monde at the same time. But it is what it is and there is nothing I can do about it so…I accept it. But then I would, wouldn’t I, now that I have that elusive ‘calm acceptance of life’.
But the beach is a good place to go on most days. I like the bleakness and there is rarely anyone there when I go. Occasionally, I wander over only to find a bus-load of old people have been shipped in – presumably for their ‘day out’ treat care of whatever home or sheltered accommodation they reside. I can’t think who else would ship thirty to forty aged pensioners, some of whom can hardly walk, to a small, deserted beach in the middle of nowhere. On such days, I just turn around and walk straight back home. Even the company of people who are now, regrettably, closer to my age than I’d like to admit, is anathema to me. The possibility of having to say anything more than a polite ‘morning’ to anyone fills me with fear and disgust.
Thankfully, on most days, there’s nothing worse than the odd person here and there walking their dog and I can sit on one of the dozen benches positioned along the concrete promenade and watch the hypnotic washing of the waves crashing onto the rocks and cleaning the sand.
This had been my habit for at least a year – going out each day when the weather was good to sit on the beach for an hour or two – when I realised that I had not been as alone as I had assumed. My solitude was, in fact, shared with another.
To continue reading this story please buy the book ‘The Old Man on the Beach and other stories’ available January 2015.
Copyright © 2014 D K Powell