The Glorious Sensation of Being Alive

beachnightNOTE: This essay was published 5 July 2000, when I was a columnist for the now-defunct Morrock News Digest. I’m posting it here for a few readers to enjoy.

A working trip swept me away from home for over a week, but briefly a moment appeared to watch the moon rise from the Atlantic Ocean at 10 p.m. and fight with the clouds to find his space in the sky. The wind caressed our faces after the hot trip to oceanside. The sand forgave our imposition and welcomed us to sit facing the horizon that disappeared in the dark.

We sat and talked of difficulties and challenges. Whether sharing our souls or baring our faces to the elements made the problems shrink, I can’t say, but they did assume a less gruesome character. With coconut palms swaying above us and tame waves lapping at my toes, the spirit came away washed and renewed, if not the seat of my pants.

Amazing what changing a keyboard and monitor for a front-row seat at a deserted beach can do for you.

There on a piece of Pernambuco coast, my wrinkles melted away, my eyebrows relaxed their deep furrows, and my 10-year-old child resurrected to just feel alive again. Great value adheres to this glorious sensation, even though you cannot always capture it nor guarantee its appearance. Long after it has passed, its essence remains, not unlike a favorite morsel you have already swallowed, but whose taste still lingers in the mouth to please the palate and torture the conscience as it tells you to brush your teeth already. The aftertaste hangs on, and you savor it still.

The glorious sensation of aliveness leaves its own aftertaste.

After you have downloaded a thousand e-mails after your trip, the sway of the palms still dance in your head.

While you load your agenda with backwater chores and deadlined tasks, you twiddle your toes together as if feeling the grainy sand between them.

Your body still aches from the flu which greeted you beside smiling stewardesses on your early-morning flight home, but the muscles’ joyful responses of recovery remind you of a chest bared to the wind, sun, and rain of Edenic origins.

You still don’t know where to start cleaning piles of papers, but the waves’ clean sweep across the expanse of sand keep the heaps weighing down your desk and shelves from pulling down your smile.

Responsibilities come creeping back, but a shard of afternoon sun through your office window takes your feet back to the meeting of earth, water, and sky, if only to remind you of the real weight of things.

The aftertaste still lingers. Let the conscience complain. My tongue is still licking over the teeth to savor the last vestiges of delicious moments.

J. Randal Matheny

Be pithy.

What do you think?