Tag Archives: relaxation

Beach Day

The clouds streak across the grey sky, obscuring the sun’s light if not its heat. Sea-birds squeal and call as they glide over the wide patch of coral-studded sand. Purple flowers pop in the clusters of green leaves that form a line to separate the grass from the advancing beach. The waves rumble at the shore in a soft rhythm like a drum swell to fill the silence every few seconds. And I sit on the cabin porch in the thick. humid air, looking over the scene when I’m not staring into the darkness behind my eyelids. 


This is a day “off” from work, the one full day of a visit to the resort at the north end of the island. I’m on leave from military responsibilities, though they still hover over my mind like a swarm of the mosquitos and gnats that nip at my exposed skin. 

Work duties may be on hold, but that doesn’t mean their voices remain silent. One of my programs requires more attention–something unimportant but neglected too long. Mysteries and technical difficulties loom over one of my aircrew duties–and another program that falls under my purview. We’ve asked for aid and channeled our questions in the right direction, so now we wait for additional details. I have personal responsibilities calling for attention, and my transition to retirement, put off as somewhere forever down the road, approaches next year with the inexorable passage of time. 

The waves crash in their unchanging pattern, one after another–splash… splash… splash…

“Later,” I tell the myriad concerns. “It’s a beach day. I’m taking a day off. You should too.” 

I hear their laughter as they continue their slow, constant pace. 

Commitments pepper my mind like a nagging wife, while my actual wife sits on the porch with me, chortling and giggling at hilarious videos on her smartphone. The woman I love is happy that I have this time to relax, happy that I have no timetable or schedule or task calling for my attention. “You probably need this,” she said as we made ourselves comfortable in our home for a day and a half.

I need to get caught up on weeks of writing courses I’ve neglected. I need to keep up with planning for the National Novel Writing Month events kicking off this week. I have to post something to a blog I’ve ignored for weeks, or perhaps finish one of a half-dozen drafts and concepts I’ve jotted down in various notes.

We snack on sandwiches of turkey and Colby-jack, food brought from home since everything on the resort is so pricy. I look over the groceries in the kitchen—more than we need—and the gym duffel full of too many clothes for the short stay. 

We dragged plenty of bags into the cabin last night, a couple pieces at a time, one trip after another from the minivan.

I always seem to bring too much. “What if we need this? What if we want that tomorrow?”

Urgent news from home occupies my thoughts. My mother is in the hospital, and needs a pacemaker. I’m on the other side of the world, unable to do anything but pray and wait for news. Suddenly some of the “important” things in life lose a little bit of their precedence. 

Wave after wave, worry after worry, tiny little turmoils and troubles that fill the background noise.

My smallest son, age six, proudly displays his catch–this time a water bottle full of hermit crabs, scrabbling and scratching over each other trying in vain to find freedom. “They can’t live in there, honey,” Mom tells him. “You need to let them go.”

“Oh,” he says with barely a tinge of disappointment. He dashes off in the direction of the repetitive rumble and disappears behind the slope of sand that leads down to the water’s edge. The concerned parent in me knows that his older brothers are looking out for him, watching to make sure he doesn’t go too deep or too far into the blue water.

To be young and fearless once again… but that would mean forgetting the truth: some concerns and fears are protective, instructive, the result of experience or maturity, an acknowledgement of reality. Some worries are voices to which we do well to listen.

The buzz of cicadas fills the air, and the noise of the sea dies down. The slight breeze falters, gives up, as if the oppressive humidity is too much to push through. The children return, their hearts light, their voices loud and silly. Water rushes from a hose to sweep away the sand, and then it becomes a puddle in which they splash and play while “drying off.” 

It’s a beach day, a day of rest, free from concerns and cares. We’ll roast marshmallows and make s’mores over a bonfire at sunset, then wonder in awe at the array of stars filling the night sky. In the periphery of our attention, in the background of my mind, the waves will continue their perpetual, rhythmic chant.

“Tomorrow,” I’ll tell them, like I always do… and they’ll laugh as they rumble ashore, one after another after another. 

A Stolen Moment

A few days every week, one to three of my older kids participate in a youth program on base. When I’m off, it’s a great excuse for me to park my butt at the nearby coffee shop and write. After all, I’m trying to finish off the draft of my NaNoWriMo project (50K words wasn’t enough for the story I had planned), and then I have fantasy book 2 to write…

Sometimes it feels like a constant “should” hanging over my head. I could be writing. I want to write more. I need to finish the next book, and the next one, and the one after that. I don’t want to waste my time flipping through Facebook and tapping through Twitter.

And yet, when I parked at the coffee shop yesterday, I noticed once again the stone benches placed between several banyan trees. I saw the sun shining through the clouds and the leaves. I heard the birds chirping out their warnings. I paused to sit and enjoy the moment, and then I tried to capture it in my journal.

On that page, I wrote these words, hoping to immortalize the memory for myself if no one else, and the moment of contemplation got me thinking about how many times I’ve passed that spot without stopping.

The things we want don’t come because we wish for them; they come because we work for them.

I recorded my thoughts and a reading of the text in my journal on YouTube here:

Here’s the text of my notes, in case the wind got in the way.

The branches and sections of trunk tangled and wound together like a four-year-old’s shoelaces…

roots like elephant trunks curling this way and that between octopus tentacles that poke through the waves of green grassy seas…

birds on all sides, singing the same few notes over and over, like someone with a song stuck in her head who can only remember one or two lines…

warm sunbeams cast long, cool shadows, and ants march across my pencil case in search of something edible…

cars drive by, carrying men and women on other business who will forever be oblivious to THIS moment, THIS time and space…

and I do not judge, for so often I have been likewise blind by necessity or obligation, forced to focus my attention on some other task, marching like these ants toward an unspecified but presumed-important goal…

All of us are pulled and twisted in many directions like the trunks and branches of these trees; all of us are motivated by unavoidable consequence to avoid “wasted” team and move with purpose to the next task…

But can I be cautious and conscious, careful to find here and there in life a moment and space like this?

Can I pause and be still, and listen to the world?

Though pulled and twisted by demands, can I sit like a tree, elegant in the pose like a dancer stretching upward?

Calm Before the (self-inflicted) Storm

I regret not participating in BlogBattles or posting, but I am enjoying a week off of work and a relaxing vacation to Okuma, the beach resort at the north end of Okinawa.

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Here’s the view from the cabin porch. It’s ok, I guess…

Also my mother-in-law is here. At least that’s not a bad thing like the stereotypical joke might imply.

After this week, I jump back into a flying schedule with double the standard workload and none of the additional support to make it work. So work is going to be crazy for a good while. And I still have an office to run when we’re not in the air doing the mission.

On top of that, I go to my PT test next week knowing I’m doomed to fail based on gaining too much weight and too much waist over the last several months. I don’t have any excuses; I know that if I log everything I eat, hold roughly to the suggested caloric intake, and get a decent amount of exercise, I can pass the test. The diet is the biggest part of achieving success, and it’s tiring to live like that for months on end. So my next few months will be not just flying but incorporating more exercise while watching and logging every calorie.

On a more positive note, prep for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is in full swing, and I’ll be participating in that again this year. During November, people around the world attempt to write a 50,000 word novel between November 1st and 30th. That works out to 1,667 words a day, assuming life never gets in the way. I’ve been planning a story and a setting with a friend, and I’m ready to dive in. I’m also the Okinawa Municipal Liaison, one of four for all of Japan, which means setting up meetings, posting messages to all of the participants in the region, and trying to help the whole event go smoothly. I love doing this but it’s a workload.

More important than all of the above, I have a wife and four kids that deserve attention. I can’t just write and workout when I’m not flying. (But I can write while getting some light exercise on a bike or a walk on a treadmill, so that’s one way to kill two birds with one stone.)

So we’re making the most of this down-time. We built a fire at sunset and roasted marshmallows, after I grilled some dogs, burgers, and corn. Last night, my wife and I enjoyed some quiet time just chatting on the porch, enjoying the cool breeze.

We’ll build a fire tonight if the rain stays away. Swimming one more time is on the menu, as is cycling around the resort. If the rain gets bad, we have some card games to play — we might get to those anyway, since my middle son is begging for them.

And maybe I’ll get some writing done. My NaNoWriMo project isn’t going to prep itself.

The Best Lunch

As an aside, I sure do love writing challenges. I discovered the last Daily Post writing challenge a little late in the week, but still enjoyed the creative spark it provided. This week’s challenge seems quite simple: jot down some lunchtime observations. Maybe there will be more of these, but today’s ‘lunch’ was special for me.

It’s 2 PM, or 3, or so.
I’ve lost track, don’t really know.

Teenage Daughter’s at her friend’s house
Watching YouTube videos.

Wifey has a meeting over lunch
And the boys, they begged to go.

That leaves me and Three-Year-Old
Napping in Wifey’s recliner.

Cuddled up, side by side,
I’m sure no lunch was ever finer.

And though no food did I prepare,
I’ve rarely felt so satisfied
Than after this day’s lunchtime fare.

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Saturday

Today is entirely unproductive.

I have been doing well on my diet and exercise plan. Today, I am sore from my first day out of my support boot on the foot that’s still healing. So I don’t feel like exercising. I also felt like eating a few more lumpia than I should. (Actually, I don’t know if diet and lumpia EVER go together.)

I wanted to write a bit on two story ideas, but the words aren’t flowing quite right and the ideas aren’t communicating the way I want. So I wrote two pages and stopped there.

My wife and I were going to go out and celebrate Mother’s Day early, on a rare dinner date. We both realized neither of us feel like getting out the door today.

There’s also that level of Candy Crush that has me stumped.

So I think today has become a useless “relax and play Warcraft” day. And I’m ok with that. It’s Saturday. It’s been a long week, and next week is going to be even busier than this one.

I went over the music for tomorrow’s church service.

I learned all about my wife’s FarmVille farms.

I hugged two of my boys close as we watched Despicable Me.

And I let the teenage daughter and almost-teenage son escape to go play with friends.

That’ll do, pig.