During my most recent vacation to Folly Beach, S.C., I was gifted several beautiful experiences.
Each day and night, the sky would show off its brilliance through deep hues of pink, purple and light blue filled with wispy white clouds. A rainbow appeared over the ocean as the sun set on the other side of the sky, painting the rippling water with a warm light. A full moon positioned itself regally above lapping waves as the sun slowly began to fade into the smoky blue background.
My favorite days were spent lying on the beach, swimming in the warm ocean and discovering the abundance of seashells lining the shore after the tide would bring in the water and release it back home, leaving the ocean’s treasures behind for discovery.
I took night walks with a lantern to visit a sandbar separated by two different sections of water. I waded through an ankle-deep pool to reach a small, idyllic island. I sat serenely as the other side of the ocean crashed against the sand, flowed over my feet and returned back to the sea.
The last time I was at the beach was many years ago in Panama City. I naively believed I could fight the undertow even with a red flag signaling a warning. In chest-deep water, the sand was taken out from under my feet. Regardless of my toes stretching desperately for solid ground, there was none to be found.
With each struggle to come up for air, a wave would crash back on top of me, knocking me deeper into the water. I waved my arms and screamed out. It felt like an eternity before someone came to rescue me out of the ocean’s clutches. I’d gone limp and was floating aimlessly, exhausted. I was pulled to land and laid there shaking.
I’ve never feared water and have always been a strong swimmer, but upon reaching the ocean at Folly Beach, I was hesitant to trust the sea again.
During surf lessons, as I nervously waited to catch my last wave, my instructor said “look behind you.” A dolphin rose out of the water close to where I was floating. A second one came up beside me, exposing its dorsal fin. The two put on a delightful show and then left as quickly as they came.
I felt peace and gratitude from the experience. I considered this interaction a type of acknowledgement from the universe of the internal growth I’d made. I’m different now than I was while fighting the sea those years ago. I have more respect for all things, especially those more powerful than myself. I now realize I’m not invincible.
With time comes more understanding. Following a long period of uneasy soul-searching, I discovered more respect and love for myself and all aspects of the world. I find beauty in and appreciate the smallest of things more deeply. I now try to continue taking the next right step and keep swimming in the right direction.
Standard reporter Atlanta Northcutt can be reached at 473-2191.