It is a short walk to the bus stop at the end of your block, where the number 5 McAllister regularly runs along Fulton, parallel to Golden Gate Park. Even though it stops every two blocks, you are only 8 blocks from the end of the line, at Ocean Beach. As you get closer to the beach, the anticipation mounts. You don’t question it, you are just really excited at the prospect of another great day at the beach, and then soon enough you have arrived.
You can barely contain your happiness as you disembark from the bus and race through the arcades of Playland-At-The-Beach, redolent with the intoxicating aromas of cotton candy and french fries carried on the bracing salt air breezes of the Pacific Ocean just across the street. What a wonderful day, you are bursting with joy!
You run across the Great Highway to the sea wall, then down the steps, kick off your shoes, pull off your socks, and plant your feet in the fine warm sand. Ah, yes! Now you race down to the water’s edge where the cool ocean swirls up and around your ankles. Then the tide turns and rushes out, and your feet have sunk down into the wet squishy sand. You feel a very particular surge of ecstasy that is unlike any other. As you look out over the water to the far horizon, the sunlight glints and shimmers on the expanse, and you deeply inhale and exhale. If there was ever a time you felt a profound sense of timelessness, it is here, now.
You are not thinking about what led up to this moment, nor are you pondering how the rest of your life will unfold. It doesn’t matter. Nothing matters but the sea and summer sky, and this tremendous physical joy that arises with each breath, with each happy beat of the heart within your chest. This is all the magic you had ever hoped to find, and now you are here where you love to be, all thanks to a short bus ride!
As you stroll along the sand, you pause here and there to pick up and examine random shells which have washed in to decorate the shoreline. You eventually spot one that immediately attracts your attention. It is different from the others, but not just in terms of its shape. As you hold it close to your face in order to get a better look, it seems, amazingly, as if you have suddenly been drawn into the shell itself.
Now you are sliding around its spiraling internal architecture, as if on an amusement ride at the carnival across the street. You are no longer in control as you are swept along, gradually increasing in speed until, with a great swooshing sound, you are deposited back on the beach. However, it quickly becomes apparent that you are no longer on the same beach you were at just moments before. The ocean water is no longer the characteristic blue-green, but now is an aqua-turquoise, and what before was a surface of rolling waves is now more like an immense serene lake, gently lapping along the shoreline’s edge.
In the sky above, there appear to be several pale moons arcing across a pinkish dome, while twin suns hang suspended, radiating a soothing and benign warmth. It all seems so lovely that you forget for a moment that you have somehow been transported to another world. Nor does any of that seem to matter anymore because you feel so utterly at peace.
Indeed, it feels like home in some mysterious way, and so you just sit down and indulge yourself in the beauty expanding all around you. At a certain point you sense a thought arising, an idle question really: “Is this a dream?” However, the thought dissolves before you can even ponder the question, and you return to your blissful silence.
Years pass by as you sit in the sand, just gazing out to sea. Centuries come and go, but you pay time no heed, it is merely an idea you no longer are inclined to harbor. Mesmerized by the gentle tidal murmurs, which form a kind of extended mantric melody, you relax deeper and deeper into the pleasurable harmony of this scene, never tiring of its pristine beauty.
For some reason, who can say, you happen to glance down at your hand, and you notice that there is a seashell in your grasp. You hold it closer for inspection, but as you do, it seems as if you have suddenly been drawn into the shell itself. Now you are sliding around its spiraling internal architecture, as if on an amusement ride at some carnival you once knew. You are no longer in control as you are swept along, gradually increasing in speed until, with a great swooshing sound, you are deposited back on the original beach you were walking so long ago.
You gaze around to get your bearings, then shake your head in wonder and astonishment. Looking down, you notice that you are holding that same shell in your hand. Without thinking, you draw your arm back, and then in a fluid motion you skip the shell out over the waves, where it disappears in the ocean. After a moment, you head back across the street to the Amusement Park, and order a tray of warm french fries. They are so delicious that you forget all about the shell, and ask instead for more ketchup. When you finish your snack, you exclaim out loud to nobody in particular: “What another great day at the beach!”