Looking for Seashells

We all have preconceived ideas about how everything should go; our weekends, relationships, workdays, vacations. I’ve had to work hard to remove these toxic preconceptions from my mindset. I have lowered my expectations, not because my life is so awful and I shouldn’t expect anything great, but rather, I found myself ruining great moments with my preconceived expectations. Accepting moments and situations for what they are is called mindfulness, and this is a new practice for me, introduced by my sisters at Salty Running!

I’ve become a beach regular here, making the trip from my apartment to the shore by bicycle, several times a week. I go with my backpack and a book in tow, with a towel and water bottle, no phone. It’s so freeing to leave behind the other “stuff.” I love the beaches in Spain because expectations do not exist. Everyone does their own thing, and it’s glorious. People rollerblade along the paseo and play paddle ball and volleyball in the sand. Kids run wild. Lovers and friends share wine. My American friend and I share mimosas. People are walking, running, biking, and riding their scooters. Espetos, or sardines, are grilled in small boats along the shore all day long. There really is not an expectation for anyone’s actions or appearance. When you go to the beach, you are ageless.

The ladies who inspired this post were looking for seashells, and range in age from 13 to 75.

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I met at the beach two evenings in a row. It was prime time for swimming, and we did not want to waste it. We stayed from the early evening until the sun sank below the buildings behind us, cooling the shore. Both nights we noticed a woman, probably nearing her eighties, come to the beach by herself and search for shells. It was at the same time both nights. It was always late, nearly dark. The fishermen had set up their camps along the water, and she came to swim anyway. I will admit it was an odd sight to see an older lady come to the beach at night by herself. But what I really noticed was the freedom of her actions. I could tell she was so happy to be there. To be here. Judging by the time of day and the regularity in which she arrived, I don’t think she was a tourist. I think she’s a resident, and she really loves her home. It was inspiring to see her independence, to see her break societal expectations of her age and gender. Like I said, when you go to the beach, you are ageless. Maybe in another light, I would not have seen her the way I did. But I saw her for who she was on the inside, a passionate, independent soul.

Over the weekend I observed two girls around the age of 13 doing the same thing. Childhood is so fragile to begin with, but especially hard to preserve during this time of the internet. This is a sign that I’m getting old when I talk about “kids these days.” 😉 But anyway, I’ve seen so many teenagers here that look way older than they are– yikes! Which is why I noticed these girls. Again, they removed themselves from societal standards for how 13 year old girls should behave. Phone-free, they were simply enjoying each other’s company and searching for seashells. They did it with vivacity. They would spend some time in the shallow waters, and then run to deposit their treasure. Again, it was their freedom, gleefulness, and playfulness that caught my eye.

I’m so thankful to have witnessed the beauty of these ladies. Their energy, passion, and happiness have inspired me to be more mindful, to enjoy the ride, and to be myself without reserve.


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