Monday, January 9, 2006


I can't honestly say I've ever heard the ocean roar.
But some childhood stories you carry with you, and I'm the first to place that seashell up against my ear in quiet anticipation of hearing the untold secrets of the sea.

I had never been to this part of the world. Certainly some words from Hemingway were pounding inside my head when I charted my itinerary in my daughter's Spanish textbook. Madrid to Malaga to Marbella, Spain. Bullfights...intoxicating sounds from dark cantinas...flamenco dancing...and the color of red everywhere.

And maybe back in Madrid, or Valdovino, or hidden in the small back streets of Puente Genil, I might have found the world that Hemingway walked, and listened to the sounds I craved to hear when reading his words.

But not this time. This was not the world of Hemingway.

This was a world of Sean Connery, Porsches and caviar-laden yachts. Marbella, Spain...a resort town whose beauty and magnificence was everywhere - from the lush greens of its many golf courses to the houses tucked away into the mountainside - to the people themselves.

And the beach. What little solitude I had were the moments I made for myself along the boardwalk. With the sun on my back…the smell of the Mediterranean in front of me...the constant rhythm and movement of the sea...all within a cannon shot of Gibraltar.

There are just so many quiet times that a person ever calls their own, and part of what makes that quiet time so special is the magnitude of their surroundings.

It's one thing to have a silent moment to yourself tucked away with a book at home, but it's still quite another to stand in front of a sea where kings have battled...countries have been won and lost...where sons of gods have washed their hands.

With an empty beach in front of me, I took off my shoes and walked the beach alone. I picked up a few pebbles along the way, but I quickly became aware of the absence of seashells. There were a few fragments to be found here and there, and it made my search more determined.

I was almost ready to turn back and give up on my quest...but there, nestled up against a piece of driftwood was the tiniest of seashells...complete and intact.

As I held this tiny shell in the palm of my hand...dusting off the fragments of sand, the childhood story of the roaring ocean came to mind. Certainly, this tiny, delicate piece of cosmic dust held no melody from the sea - its former occupant snatched away to serve as mere fodder for a daily meal. But I walked to the water's edge...and immersed my prize into the cold blue sea...cleansing its soul for my possession.  And I placed it to my ear.

No childhood story came to echo of waters pounding the magical tides whispered to me.

Simply...a seashell. A fragment of time...that I clutched in my hand.

I turned...and retraced my footsteps - already shadows of where I had been. With the sun on my back...the smell of the Mediterranean in front of me...the constant rhythm and movement of the sea...all within a cannon shot of Gibraltar.