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  • Lourenço Anunciacao

The Beach of Life

Earlier this summer, just as things were opening up again, I got a train one afternoon to North Berwick with a beer, a pad and my lucky purple pen. I was trying to make sense of all the moving parts in my life just like everyone else and I thought where better to go than the beaches of Lothian that were so bare before and suddenly busier again.

I think at the time a lot of us students never really allowed ourselves to see the passive effect the global pause had on us, understandably when we would see people reduced to mere numbers in a newsroom, somebody’s loved ones even if not ours.

But today, months later with fresher’s week just completed and a new energy to campus, I am going to smile as I reread this slightly pompous semi-poetic story and feel like life’s finally returning slowly back to normal again. The beach has always been one of my favourite metaphors: a microcosm of a nation’s diverse peoples and a window into the prevailing sentiment of the time so as the old cliché says, ‘life’s a beach’, here goes…

Ps. Rap fans might notice I adapted a line from Guru’s ‘Lifesaver’ but I’m pretty sure Picasso said I was allowed

The Beaches of Lothian by Lourenço Anunciacao (Instagram: @mrlouindahouse)

The beach of life whistles ’til the end of day, endlessly wishing away the days whilst swallowing whole the waves in all their splendour and shame

There’s never opportunity to rest for they have no concept of a day’s end, nor any sort of slowing down to life’s little game

Looking and looking for the line that splits fantasy and reality, a most fantastical duality

Looking deep into the depths of the sea, Is there even anything there left to see?

Young lifetimes littered with life lessons, blinding us from our beauty and our blessings

The early evening fog gives rise to a maritime haze, a misty blaze only broken when the beach lets out a long wallow, a cry of help to the many hills around, a shortlived chorus surrounds for a mere second until normality resumes once more

Huts spotted about the sand filled with humanity’s intangibles, waiting patiently to be untangled like a lonely lemon, the last to fall from the tree

Sometimes she feels worthless like a seagull who’s lost its wings and purpose

Like a mound of sand stuck in the shadows of today and terrified of the shadows of tomorrow

Sometimes the moon lights up the ground, sparking the millions of grains of sand to hiss at the seashells who are also yet to find any smoothness in their sleep

On this beach everyone’s sleep is ruptured one way or another

Constant seduction into interruption, as if by design

As if there’s a fisherman’s ghost desperately lost in his mind, drunkenly stamping his feet besides each and every bed

The moonlight with all its cheekiness always marks the start of the new night and the beach in all her intricacy descends into a kind of methodical madness though maybe it’s just the repetitive routine she has acquired which gives the illusion of method

Wandering to nowhere special in her thoughts come nightfall, simply wondering about it all

Occasionally she would doubt all that she could see, bringing into question her reality and talking to herself with no pause or stop

Meanwhile nearby there is a soft tick tock, tick tock – probably from an old sailor’s clock left on one of the many deserted sailboats that populate the dock

The beach’s words more a rambly stream of consciousness than productive internal dialogue

The manifestation of her ever more vivid inner vulnerabilities, what does it even mean to have or not have insecurities

We will always be nomads in this world that we roam, only when we love ourselves can we see it as home

She used to think she was special, invincible even, but in these moments that are ever more frequent she feels like a tiny cog in mother earth’s mechanic sequence,

Losing all desire to doodle or even attempt to dream

Whispering under her salty breath, ‘Oh night and day, oh life and death

What if the sun has given up for now and forever? What if the dimming night sky and spotty stars are for show and we are kidded into thinking we know what we know?’

Then one day early June something extraordinary happens on one of those teasing summer mornings, oddly coloured animals appear as if just to confuse things

Recently the beach had lost her self confidence to decide, that which constitutes true living and that which is just lies

She feels like having an eternal nap and never again opening her eyes

There is a sudden arrival of energy from many a winged creature, all manner of cries from the most peculiar characters

Blue seagulls are the first to come down from the sky, ‘stop this stupid demise’ they shout from the rocks to the side

A handful of pink puffins then waddle ashore, sustaining eye contact with the beach now fully sat up and attentive, and they are far more reserved in their observations

‘You see’, they start, ‘true living is about managing expectations, a strong dose of realism in the pushing of limitation,’

But before they can go on they are interrupted by a very different kind of song, bebop, bebop – there is a great tremble in the water and the splashes, normally so uniform in their movements, come to a complete stop

The beach feels completely bare and shivers, slowly letting out a mumble to herself

‘What am I even doing here?’ she says almost paralysed, constantly cowering out of intense fear

She then goes, goes into a crescendo aiming a shout at nothing in particular, ‘Why is there no one … but these weird guests?’

Then in a flash a pearly white whale rises up creating a great big sound, looking into the eyes of the ocean and shouting, ‘Oh baby blue look around, just look around, how are you oblivious to all that there is around!’

‘You see I am stuck far away from the nation I once was raised in, but life is far too short for caring and complaining. Life is like jazz improvisation – to follow the wind whatever way it chooses to blow, ignoring all that we can never succeed to know. I am the lifesaver, here to give you direction amongst all society’s misconceptions and evil deceptions. Be true to the life the lord gave ya, that is the essence of what I’m saying here!’

Up on the pier all the mist dissipates and humanity breathes free

All the locals zigzag and tiptoe around, the many mates of the beach congregate on the sand

Friends from random ends

The old lady with the injured dog

The short-sighted curly haired boy scared of the fog

The recently retired man with an old shirt one size too tight

A group of introverted kite flyers, multicoloured strings up in flight

The hippie girls from the country, tote bags full of battered books

The sunbathers with their sunnies and sarcasm, desperate to give off disinterested looks

The tipsy teenage skinheads, lager, cigs and a football

And sat alone on an unremarkable plastic chair that is far too small

There is a coy coastguard twiddling blistered thumbs

His shift staring at the smiling sea must just have begun

This is true life’s energy for too long the beach failed to see

For you see the beach of life is actually really me.


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