Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Feel the Rhythm

There was a part of me that worried about taking a vacation right before school was to start. Two weeks of ultimate relaxation, sleeping late, lazy days and sunny beach visits are sure to wind the kids down instead of up. Won't it be impossible to get them into some sort of routine for school, music and extracurricular activities after such idleness?

The answer remains to be seen, but after two days at the beach with Ben, I'm not very worried. Some people are drawn to the coast, to oceans and waves, warmth and sand. Ben, who never stops moving--even in his sleep--did not strike me as one of those people. Even at almost six years old, he cannot sit still for long. His mind is always moving, his body not far behind. In the airport, he ran and spun and did pull-ups on dad's arm. On the airplane, he wiggled, squiggled and squirmed, standing and sitting beneath his loosened seat belt. How could such a child relax enough to enjoy the tranquility of a beach?

Ben's circadian rhythm has him up at the same time every morning and ready for sleep at the same time every night, regardless of what the day brings. He seems to physically anticipate the time changes in spring and fall; his schedule shifts before the clocks do, and he is antsy until his time and his world's are aligned again. But it wasn't until the moment when Ben met the ocean that I realized what I had been missing.

As we looked out to the school of dolphins swimming beyond the shore, and watched the waves roll in one after the other, it clicked: Ben's body is as constant and reliable as the tide. The waves are always moving; their rhythm pulled by the moon, something bigger and more powerful than they. It is a part of their beauty and what we find so calming about them. So it was no wonder that Ben was drawn to the waves. He spent hours running alongside them, jumping over them splashing back at them. He wants to go right to the beach when he wakes up, and is reluctant to leave them for lunch. And he sleeps for 12 hours straight at night.

For the adults, a trip to the ocean is a vacation, a way to escape the humdrum details and daily stresses of life. But for Ben, it seems, the beach is more than just a fun new place to go, and a way to spend time with his grandparents. I have a feeling that when he is older and looks back on these trips, he will think of them not as vacations, but as times of coming home. He seems to feel secure, even in this strange house with new smells and sights, different foods and routines. Perhaps it's because he is in a house full of the people he loves. But more than that, I think it's because he knows that, right across the street, he can stand at the ocean and connect with something so much bigger than himself, yet so very much the same.

No comments: