Rants and Silver Linings

Counterbalance: A Chosen Home

The viruses won the battle in our house the last few weeks and the kids and I went down. The germs will not be allowed to win the war but the blog has been silent while we struggled. We are nicely recovered now, just in time for extended family to come visiting. Fortunately, these are people I really want to spend time with. So even though I have the beginnings of many blog posts ideas, they may not get finished for a while. In the meantime, I thought I might share a little something that was originally posted in my sister’s blog because it sums up my feeling of gratitude this season.

Love this place.

Love this place.

Love where you live

I live on an island.  A tropical island.  A tropical barrier island.  Let me be clear – I live on the bay side of a tropical barrier island and my back yard is a white sandy beach. While others may use the stock phrase “Well, at least I have my health” to quiet the inner whining voice at the end of a long day, I find comfort in “Well, at least I have the beach”.

My sister, Friday, once shared a quote with me from Isak Dinesen, “The cure for anything is salt water – sweat, tears, or the sea”.    I suspect that I don’t cry often enough and I sweat too much but the ocean is always just right for me.  It restores and invigorates all my senses.  The colors are intense and mutable and the far horizon is the visual equivalent of a deep breath.  From balmy breeze to hurricane gale – the air itself is dynamic and I am more aware of myself in my own skin here.  My skin, my hair, my lungs actually like the humidity; possibly I have a greater water content than the average person.  Of course the sound is dynamic also – the rhythmic sound of waves can be relaxing or pounding but is a constant subtle reminder of time moving.   The smell is not pristine, we get circle of life on the beach with dead seaweed and sea critters baking in the sun.  It is not the fresh clarity of a mountain stream at high elevation that my Mama loves.  It is more ..fecund. It cures not by washing clean but with a living embrace.

Though it may look like paradise and certainly our vacationers think it is, there are in fact down sides to our small island life.  My frustration with Florida public schools, the lack of cultural diversity, the fact that the whole island is very much at sea level.  And I believe that global warming is creating a “when the waters rise” situation not an “if the waters rise”.  But I can’t seem to convince myself that these matters outweigh my need for the ocean. I moved to the island of Anna Maria, FL as a last attempt at healing from a serious chemical injury 14 years ago.  And while I will not be arrogant enough to claim a cure, I am certainly a healthier person now.  Partly because I commune with the ocean everyday but also because the ocean effects my community.

Anna Maria City Pier

Anna Maria City Pier

Our city is finding a way to maintain small town values with tourist based industry on a resource challenged ecosystem.  There are loud disagreeing voices on the issues but a middle road is being found with the guiding examples of some green minded local businesses.  The residents are largely people who are here with intent.  Living on an island being their main goal and then secondly finding a job or a career that will allow them to live here, or retire here.  So while our jaywalking vacationers may inspire some cursing from residents, we also maintain a more island time vibe than a workday vibe.  Because we are where we want to be.

I am blessed beyond words to live in a place that feeds my inner and outer life so richly.  But I have no illusions that it would cure major life issues for everyone.  In fact my children, born and raised on the island, have no idea how lucky they are.  They think anyplace with elevation is magical and that the beach is boring.  I console myself with the image of them returning from college with heartfelt thanks for raising them in such a wonderful place.  In the meantime I model my gratitude for our home in hopes that a little sinks in. Because I think we all need something to finish that thought,  “Well at least I have my…..”  Maybe it is your health.  Or your wonderful child, or a steady job in this economy, or a great pair of shoes. Whatever brings back your balance!


Me, untilted. Though it looks like the picture, or the horizon, or the waves are tilted. So much for my perfect illustration idea!

One thought on “Counterbalance: A Chosen Home

  1. Reading this post allowed me to vicariously drift away to a peaceful spot by the sea! Except for the humidity and annoying tourists, it sounds amazing! I am pretty sick of urban life, although it is convenient and there is good access to medical care. I love the way you wrote about where you live, and yes, I think your kids will thank you once they go to college and live in some overcrowded dorm! Wonderful post.

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