Remember when you leaped as a child into the waves and splashed and dived for hours, and by the end of the afternoon you could hear your mother calling from the beach to tell you it was time to get out of the water?
You’d turn toward shore, wading reluctantly through the waves, letting the surge of the ocean push you closer to the beach even as the undertow pulled you back into the sea.
Once you stood on the beach, you could feel the warm sand on the soles of your feet and between your toes.
You’d wrap yourself in a large beach towel and taste salt on your lips and still feel the waves lifting you up to the sky then swinging you down toward the ocean bottom.
“Purple lips,” your mom would say, tugging the towel tighter over your shoulders so your lips might stop trembling.
You’d examine the pale skin on the end of your fingers, so wrinkled that the fingertips looked like tiny white raisins.
The salt would dry on the back of your neck and on the edge of your nose, and the skin under your eyes and on the top of your ears would start to sting from the salt and the sun.
Remember how you never wanted to leave the water? Remember always wanting to stay in longer, wanting to feel the power of the ocean surging under you, over you, and into you with each wave?
It’s how I feel every year at this time when I have to leave behind unfinished projects and step out of the water before I’m ready.
I can almost hear my mother’s voice again: “Come in, it’s time to dry off!”
There I am on the water's edge again–a skinny boy, teeth chattering, lips blue, goose bumps crawling up my arms.
I’m standing on the beach gazing back at the sea, looking at the precise spot where I spent the last few hours floating in the waves, and I want to go back in even though I know that I have to wait until tomorrow or, if our vacation is coming to an end, next summer.
As I clear my desk now in preparation for this annual break, I'm standing on the beach (in my mind) looking back at the past year that I’ve swum through, awed by the power of the water to keep drawing me back to it.
I’m humbled by the strength of the waves and the undertow of words that have flowed through my pen onto paper and into the world this past year.
And I’m especially grateful for the chance to share my thoughts with you.
In a few weeks, once I’ve had a chance to dry off and rest from this past year of swimming steadily across an unknown sea, I’ll write again.
For now, though, I’m taking a break, and hope you’ll find a chance to rest, too, in the weeks ahead.
With luck, we’ll meet on the beach in a few weeks, and we'll return to the water and swim together in search of words and stories again.
Hope you’ll join me then.
For more on the benefits of taking a break from writing, visit: