“Every time we walk along a beach some ancient urge disturbs us so that we find ourselves shedding shoes and garments or scavenging among seaweed and whitened timbers like the homesick refugees of a long war… Mostly the animals understand their roles, but man, by comparison, seems troubled by a message that, it is often said, he cannot quite remember or has gotten wrong… Bereft of instinct, he must search continually for meanings… Man was a reader before he became a writer, a reader of what Coleridge once called the mighty alphabet of the universe.”
– Loren Eiseley in his book Unexpected Universe
I love walking on the beach. While I wouldn’t call the feeling disturbing, I have noticed a different kind of pull to aliveness and curiosity than I feel in other places. Maybe that’s why I like going back to the beach again and again. Maybe it’s a primal pull?
Our ability as humans to imagine into the future and the past is one thing which distinguishes us from most other living beings. This creative fantasy-making also can take us away from the present.
Isn’t it somehow ironic that this gift is also somewhat of a curse? By taking our awareness and attention away from what’s right in front of us, we miss out. Being less clear about our role and contribution to life, we spend time being lost.
Isn’t it great that so many teachers and traditions offer guidance on returning to the present moment?