Meditating at the Jersey shore is never an easy prospect during the heart of summer. Parents tote their children and 16 tons of plasticrap to the beach for a “fun” day, which usually looks like nothing but eye-gouging misery to me.
Families fight, kids whine and leak, big bulbous beer bellies are exposed to the first sun in a year and banshee voices scream, “Tommy, get that goddamn filthy shell out of your mouth or I ain’t buying you no ice cream!” Their cute little savages stand by the shoreline, throwing sand as if it is some sort of rewarding game, oblivious of the passers-by, namely me.
Nonetheless, I find a quiet, semi-private spot to sit and stretch out for a bit, listen to music on my headphones and gather myself before a long day’s work. As I quiet my inner demons, I suddenly feel the whirling frantic air of an outer demon running around me.
Opening one eye, I see a skinny, gawky child, around 7 or 12, hell if I know. He is running in circles around me, for some unknown reason. I look back to find his parental unit. She and her teased yellow hair and layers of jello fat are busy on a cell phone, which I’m sure is now permanently embedded in her ear, allowing her to talk mindlessly until the moment of her uneventful death.
Shhh, Beth. Focus. Breathe. Pay no attention to the annoying child running in meaningless circles around you. Inner calm, baby, inner calm. You can do it.
“Mommy! Mommy! Look. Look at the butterfly!”
Annoyed, I open my one eye again to see the awkward child pointing frantically at a very small bird that had landed on the beach, looking for a quick bite to eat.
“Mommy! Mommy! Look at the butterfly.”
“Hold on, Frankie. I’m on the damn phone!” screams the bloated banshee from behind.
“But the butterfly!”
Hmmm…clearly this isn’t a butterfly. Now perhaps Frankie’s the next Picasso and really thinks outside of the box. Maybe the nose on his face is a falling star or a trash can, a man from Mars. But I’m not thinking that. I’m thinking this kid is a little daft and has spent too much time behind closed doors.
Not able to take another second, I make the critical mistake of opening my mouth:
“Hey, Frankie. FYI. That’s not a butterfly. That’s a bird.”
Frankie looks at me, stunned, mouth agape, eyes blinking, looking even a little dumber than before (sorry Frankie).
His mother is suddenly able to tear herself away from a scintillating cell phone conversation about her ex-husband’s dislike of Coors beer:
“Why don’t you mind your own business?”
“Why don’t you teach your child the difference between a bird and butterfly? Oh and maybe some manners, while you’re at it.”
“Why don’t you shut the fuck up?”
“Why don’t you kiss my big black ass?” And with that I get up and walk home, feeling centered and refreshed and ready to start my day. It’s really amazing what a few quiet moments of meditation can do for your mind. In this frenzied world.