The Greatest Distance Is Only a Thought Away (Or, A Morning on the Beach)

I have always loved the sea.  From the first time I experienced an ocean beach, I felt drawn to it, its vastness, the steady rhythm of the waves, the sounds and smells and textures.  Growing up in Rochester, New York, hundreds of miles from the Atlantic coast, I didn’t have the chance to visit the sea very often (though Lake Ontario is a pretty fair facsimile!).  And so, whenever my family would take a trip to the coast, I always looked forward to it, counted down the days.  The trips never disappointed.

thesea

 

But there was one trip, one particular experience, that stands out, apart from the rest.

It was midsummer 1994, and my family and I took a two-week expedition to Prince Edward Island, Canada–to this day, the most beautiful place I have ever seen.  We toured the Island, took in the sights, the rich red dirt roads and farms and quaint seaside villages.  But most of all, we went to the beaches.  PEI is famous for its beaches.  We stayed at a hotel right by the shore.

pei

 

One morning, at dawn, I woke up.  I don’t know why.  I just felt an urge to get up early and experience the day.  Everyone else was still asleep.  I quietly let myself out of the hotel and walked down the narrow footpath, through grasses still moist with dew.  Off to the left, a raven, an early riser himself, pecked at something in the grass, ignoring me.  I continued on to the beach, empty at this hour, as the sun began its ascent in the east.

raven

 

I walked along the beach, my feet making patterns in the sand, down to the water’s edge.  A gull flew overhead, calling out, perhaps demanding a scrap of food I didn’t have.  The water was warm as it flowed over my feet and around my ankles–just another of PEI’s many charms.  Despite its northern location, the ocean water surrounding the Island is the warmest anywhere along the Atlantic coast north of Virginia.

peiwarmwater

 

The waves were gentle that morning, the breeze blowing in softly off the water.  I looked out, as far as I could see.  The sky was some nameless variant of pink, the sun rising, slowly, steadily, the start of a new day.  Another gull–or perhaps it was the same one–squawked again, its call echoing, echoing.

pinksunrise

 

I peered at the horizon.  It was hard to tell where the sea ended, and the sky began.  It all appeared to be joined somehow.  Not separate, but whole.  Not two, but one.  That’s when it happened . . .

I suddenly felt something, I wasn’t sure what.  It was a jolt, like a surge of electricity, but it was also airy, gentle, a feather swaying, nearly weightless.  I closed my eyes, opened them, and I saw.

featherinwind

 

I saw, in my mind’s eye–so clearly it was as if I were seeing it directly before me–a distant beach across the water.  It was hours later there.  People were milling about.  And some of them were looking to the west, looking toward me.  Maybe they, too, were feeling something above and beyond themselves.

***********************

In The Eye-Dancers, Mitchell Brant, Joe Marma, Ryan Swinton, and Marc Kuslanski travel through the void, whisked to a parallel world through an unexplainable psychic connection with the “ghost girl” who haunts their dreams.  While Marc, ever the rational scientist at heart, attempts to explain their remarkable situation through the principles of logic and quantum mechanics, Mitchell–inquisitive by nature, intuitive, with an imagination constantly in overdrive–believes there is much more to it than the laws of physics can explain.

imagination

 

And yet, he, too, wants a reason, something to grab hold of, something that might begin to explain why this happened, how this happened, and how Monica Tisdale, the “ghost girl,” was able to draw them into her universe.

dreams

 

At novel’s end, when she once again walks in the shadows and secret places of his dreams, Mitchell asks her, point-blank  . . .

“Why did you ever come to me in the first place?  We . . . I . . . don’t even live in your world.”

To which Monica Tisdale answers, “I never really picked you.  I didn’t say to myself, ‘I need to get Mitchell Brant to help me.’  I just called, and you were there.”

But Mitchell needs more than that.  It’s not good enough, doesn’t go far enough . . .

“‘But the distance,’ he said.  He couldn’t even fathom it.  The void.  The gulf.  ‘You and me, we’re so far apart.'”

“‘Are we, Mitchell?’ she said.  ‘Are we really?'”

Later, upon reflection, in his own words, Mitchell states . . .

“Maybe more than anything, I learned that everything’s connected. . . . I’m not sure how I can explain it to make sense.  It’s like, even the things that seem so far away you can’t even imagine . . . even those things are right there with you.  And the people, too.

“Maybe we’re all connected to each other, in ways we can’t even really understand.  And that’s okay, I guess.  Because maybe we don’t need to understand it.

“We just need to believe it.”

allconnected

 

**********************

Standing on that beach along the sandy shores of Canada’s garden province, the sunlight warming the morning air, I felt a part of the whole, as if a million invisible fibers extended from me, in all directions, everywhere, across the expanse of the globe.  I thought of the fish beneath the water, miles offshore, swimming, pursuing, surviving.  I thought of giant squid and crustaceans and blue whales, slicing through the water like living, breathing ocean liners, and blind, glowing creatures with fangs and stings, as yet undiscovered by humankind.

deepseafish

 

Looking across the surface of the waves, their rhythm timeless, eternal, I thought about the continents on the other side.  What were people doing at this moment?  And I realized–everything.  Babies were being born in London, Moscow, Johannesburg, and Rome.  Somewhere in Berlin, there was a car crash; elsewhere, there was an unexpected visitor popping in unannounced, perhaps a long-lost son returning home and bringing smiles to his parents’ faces.  In Ankara, in Casablanca, in Madrid and Paris and Warsaw and every town and village and hamlet in between, life was happening.  People laughed and cried, some shared and felt good; others were alone, in run-down apartments or dark alleyways, thinking of surrendered choices and opportunities now irretrievably lost.

theworld

 

Here I was, standing by myself on a fine Island morning, the sea and the wind and the gulls my only company, and yet–I was everywhere, plugged in, one small cog in an infinite and incomprehensible machine.

The gull squawked again, as if acknowledging my thoughts, and then another gull swooped in low, and then another, and another.

seagulls

 

I watched as, moments later, they flew out over the water, becoming smaller and smaller, until they vanished, like a sea mirage.

seamirage

 

It was then that I heard voices.  Other early risers were coming now, the beckoning of an Island summer day too much to resist.

The spell broken, I turned around and headed back for the hotel.

As I walked, I thought of sandy beaches halfway around the world, fish that swim in the dark, and stars that shine, like diamonds, in the night sky.  I realized, the light from some of those stars, distant beyond imagining, takes millions of years to reach our planet.

Yet reach us it does.

stars

 

Thanks so much reading!

–Mike

58 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. stockdalewolfe
    Sep 12, 2014 @ 16:06:38

    In my humble opinion and from my limited reading, this is the best thing you have ever written!! It is astonishingly beautiful in description, takes the reader right there as you always do. But, for me, it really brings in another dimension to reality. A dimension of higher consciousness. While this was present in your book, too, it really hit a chord with me here and I just loved it!! Fantastic post!

    Reply

  2. ptero9
    Sep 12, 2014 @ 16:33:59

    Agreed, your writing has a quality of quiet but deep reflection, much like the sea does.

    Having grown up on LI and also having visited PEI, I feel at home with your thoughts. I love the ocean, the sounds, smells, feel of the sand and rushing water of the waves. Pure delight.

    PEI is beautiful, in an almost old-world charming way. Made it there once, camping very close to the beach on the northern shore. The feel of the place is partly a recognition that you’re pretty far north with long daylight hours in early August.

    Thanks Mike!
    Debra

    Reply

  3. jjspina
    Sep 12, 2014 @ 19:15:21

    Your lovely words transported me to that beautiful beach. I could almost feel the warm air on my face and the breeze and salty taste of the ocean. Beautifully done, Mike!

    Reply

  4. Donna Gwinnell Lambo-Weidner
    Sep 12, 2014 @ 19:53:26

    I have to agree with all three previous comments. I feel like we were probably all standing together with you on that stunning beach for a few moments. Well done, Mike. Simply beautiful.

    Reply

  5. Mary J. McCoy-Dressel
    Sep 12, 2014 @ 21:05:00

    Very nice. Wow, it’s unanimous. I too can say I was standing there.

    Reply

  6. Sonya Solomonovich
    Sep 13, 2014 @ 02:17:52

    I got goosebumps from reading this! I like to think about the vast reaches of the ocean too, when I stand on the beach.

    Reply

  7. SARA
    Sep 13, 2014 @ 02:36:44

    Lovely post.

    Reply

  8. jenniferkmarsh
    Sep 13, 2014 @ 08:05:26

    The sea has a power about it that indeed manages to stop time and bring every aspect of the world/universe to you. It’s quite magical, really. I love the sea for that.
    This was a brilliant piece of writing, you really brought that moment to us all 🙂 Thank you for sharing your wonderful moment.

    “Yet reach us it does.” I particularly like that. It’s a beautiful and humbling thought.

    Reply

  9. Shery Alexander Heinis
    Sep 13, 2014 @ 18:10:17

    Wow! Great post! I’m originally from an island in the Caribbean myself, and I practically grew up in the Caribbean Sea. Now that I live in Canada, PEI is an island I’ve always wanted to visit, but unfortunately, that’s one of the last provinces I’ve yet to see. Your post does bring back memories…

    Reply

  10. Lyn
    Sep 13, 2014 @ 21:18:56

    Probably one of the best descriptive post I’ve ever read. For a split second, I wanted the people on the distant beach across the water to interact, but you drew me along in the flow of the narrative. This was beautiful, Mike, just beautiful.

    Reply

  11. kelihasablog
    Sep 13, 2014 @ 21:33:27

    This is beautifully done Mike! The pictures are amazing, and go so well with your related memories! How is the book doing? I’m still waiting for you to let me know you decided to do a follow up…lol.. I know, I’m bugging you about it again. I just enjoyed “The Eye Dancers” so much! 😀

    Reply

  12. Minister Gertrude Ferguson - Founder & CEO- Enough Tribulations
    Sep 13, 2014 @ 22:56:45

    Your experience with your vacation at the beach enables you to connect it in the most breathtaking narrative intertwine in the novel. Awesome writing!

    Reply

  13. Carrie Rubin
    Sep 14, 2014 @ 18:48:23

    I love the beach. I suppose we all do, especially those of us who aren’t near one. I wonder if I lived near the ocean, I’d tire of it. Seems doubtful. Maybe someday I’ll get to find out. 🙂

    Reply

  14. Polly
    Sep 14, 2014 @ 22:21:19

    The photos and your write up put the island on my wish list of places to visit – great post 🙂

    Reply

  15. 2embracethelight
    Sep 14, 2014 @ 23:41:47

    It felt like you took me on an adventure . Thanks
    Yisrarela

    Reply

  16. insearchofitall
    Sep 15, 2014 @ 02:29:31

    You discovered something at an early age that most don’t get their whole lives. Quantum Physics is proving that we are all connected and part of everything. I like the quiet reflective side of your writing and it helps bring this idea to a wider audience. I read many books on NDE’s and the latest by Anita Moorjani expresses it much the same. I’m a quantum physics junkie anyway and maybe that’s why your book kept this old woman’s attention. I think the world is ready.

    Reply

  17. laurie27wsmith
    Sep 15, 2014 @ 09:20:44

    A definite connection with the cosmic consciousness there Michael.

    Reply

    • The Eye-Dancers
      Sep 17, 2014 @ 18:32:30

      It really was–it was like an out-of-body experience! As a writer, I knew I needed to file it away so it could resurface at a later time on the printed page. Funny, the way we writers do that with so many of our experiences.:)

      Reply

  18. Lesley at Lola Rugula
    Sep 16, 2014 @ 00:27:30

    Your storytelling continues to enrapture. 🙂 Beautiful post.

    Reply

  19. evelyneholingue
    Sep 17, 2014 @ 03:16:08

    The feeling of being part of this universe is one of the strongest we ever feel, no?
    Always great to read how you tie your experience to your writing and your novel in particuliar.

    Reply

  20. Karen's Nature Art
    Sep 22, 2014 @ 19:17:07

    I love PEI and you brought me back there-thanks so much for such beautiful writing and descriptions.

    Reply

  21. Carol Balawyder
    Sep 23, 2014 @ 12:51:25

    Lovely post, Mike. I’ve always said that I’d love to live in PEI if only it wasn’t so far away. Your photos are stunning and your writing made me feel that I was in a timeless trance. It was very hypnotic. 🙂

    Reply

  22. likeitiz
    Sep 25, 2014 @ 05:25:41

    Enjoyed this post immensely, Michael! I have always said that one day, I’d like to visit all the Atlantic provinces.

    Reply

  23. Antionette Blake (@ambde)
    Sep 25, 2014 @ 15:05:02

    I have always wanted to visit Canada, thanks for the virtual tour.

    Reply

  24. dormetheus
    Sep 26, 2014 @ 05:25:11

    Great blog! When things are in harmony, all interconnected, distance is only an illusion!

    Reply

  25. dilipnaidu
    Oct 14, 2014 @ 18:44:45

    Fascinating narration bringing out the subtle calm of a beautiful locale. Pictures too are so beautiful. 👍

    Reply

  26. Sue Dreamwalker
    Oct 30, 2014 @ 18:06:09

    You words navigate us through the terrain like a sweet melody… Loved every moment of this post Mike.. Thank you . enhanced enormously with all your photo’s and images.. Many thanks for the journey .
    Sue

    Reply

  27. stormy1812
    Dec 10, 2014 @ 15:51:36

    I have been absent for far too long – all kinds of things have happened and yet not happened lol – similar to what you’re saying here. This is, as always, beautifully described and wonderfully captivating. It is at times overwhelming to think of all that is happening at the same time or shortly after (given time and distance) and yet it really is a unifying feeling also. It helps make a person feel less isolated and alone knowing there are others in similar positions.

    Reply

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