52 Weeks 500 Words
This is how it began: Justine (not her real name) decided to write 500 words (or as near as), anything goes, per week for 52 weeks. She would then submit it for anonymous posting, via me, her friend. Perhaps a pattern will emerge from her words, but at this stage it’s more an experiment I have agreed to share in. I’ll attempt to draw conclusions at the end of this. Stay tuned if this resonates with you.
'Here in the southern hemisphere summer has arrived. Already everything is drying out from ever-present wind and, of course, the heat. Every day we hope for a little rain to ease the dryness, to help our gardens grow … to feel renewed.
I remember, as a child, how summer thrilled me. Time for the sprinklers to go on, time for swimming, for cold juice and ice-cream. Screaming on the beach, playing in the waves, building sandcastles. As a teenager it was about the tan, the bikini, and boys, of course.
Now, older, wiser, I wonder at our stupidity. Had we stayed out of the sun more, we’d have less freckles now, less skin damage. Still, looking back, those days were bliss, and skin damage isn’t so bad given the days of glory we experienced.
It’s holiday season and the beaches are now crowded with sun worshippers. Today I shake my head and think to myself it’s all rather pointless. It’s not the sun and sea, for I understand the pleasure kids receive from a day out, it’s the crowds. Everyone does the same thing, flocking to the nearest stretch of beach sand to spend the day with hordes of others. It’s pointless, because how do you know yourself amongst so many? How do you grow your personality when, for the most part, you find yourself competing with others doing exactly what you’re about?
I hear you say ‘but you did the same’ once upon a time, don’t therefore judge. The truth is I never went where the crowds were. It seems to me whenever we went to the beach as kids, it was a lonely place and the entire white expanse was ours for an entire magical day. For this I must thank my parents; clearly they preferred the silence. Yes, as teenagers, there were many of us congregating, but again, we chose quiet places. Perhaps it was my luck to know friends who thought like me, choosing privacy over public displays, and perhaps I chose in that manner because of the way I was raised.
I prefer privacy. When I go to the beach now, it is in the evening when the light is spectacular, the temperature bearable, and the sand is filled only with footprints. Of course, often I am not alone in this choice and others are about the same actions at that time of day. We greet as we pass each other by … and move on to enjoy the solitude.
I’m not yet in my elder years, in case you were wondering, and many of those I do greet in passing aren’t either, it’s simply a choice made that fits. It is a time to enjoy late evening sunshine, balmy air, and witness the almighty display of a sunset.
Why am I writing about this, you ask, beyond proving my preference for privacy? It’s the rain, see. When it does rain here in summer, suddenly everyone abandons the outdoors. The beaches are empty, the malls full. Public display moves elsewhere.
And then I wander the lonely stretch of sand in daylight under glowering heavens with freshness all around, with rain drumming upon my shoulders. It is still warm – it’s summer! – and the smell of water and dry earth meeting is beyond every description. I am renewed, as the land is renewed.
Do I like summer? In the evening when all is quiet, indeed, and, absolutely yes, when it rains. Why? Because it isn't pointless, it is renewal. It is knowing myself.'