Good morning brothers! I’ve been in Naples for three weeks. My last writing to the group was two weeks ago. The first week here was one of the hardest that I’ve experienced since Joyce died. The loneliness was brutal. I had myself convinced I should return to Indiana. I looked for new things to do and people to be with. I tried to make things happen. Then a funny thing happened…
Every night, I walk down to the beach and watch the sunset. I take my shoes off and start walking along the water’s edge. It’s a great time of reflection, meditation, and prayer. The beach was one of Joyce’s favorite places, and I really feel her presence when I’m there. On one of my most lonely nights, I found myself on the beach, leaning on a fence rail. I was watching the final rays of the sun disappear on the western sky. The weather was unusually cold and windy. The beach was empty. I looked up and saw a man walking toward me. He leaned up against the railing, and we struck up a conversation. After the usual small talk, we shared life experiences, losses we both had, lives we were trying to lead, and a word I hadn’t thought about for a while. That word is contentment.
I had myself convinced that I needed to move. I was sure I couldn’t stay in the condo we owned. I had gone so far as to contact realtors to discuss various options that would “make more sense” for me. He listened to me for a while. He suggested that I was very fortunate. My loss was huge, but my blessings are still huge. He then reminded me that along with all the bad, there was room for much good. He told me that many people would love to be able to walk five minutes and be on a beach. He reminded me that what has happened to us does not have to shape what will happen to us. He told me that the beauty of a sunset is a magnificent part of God’s creation and that our being able to witness this miracle is a true blessing. Our conversation continued for a while. It became quite apparent to me that I had managed to create a state of chaos for myself. As our conversation ended, he said words to remind me that we can, indeed, be our own worst enemies.
As we parted company, I continued walking down the beach. I realized I need to enter a season of stillness. I need to wait and be content with my current place in the world. I need to be mindful of opportunities to connect with people but not be artificially trying to manufacture those connections. In short, I need to be at rest. Stillness creates many things. To me, the most important is a sense of awareness. Awareness of the fact that we’re surviving these terrible losses. Awareness that good days are ahead. Awareness that life, in spite of what we’ve been through, is something to be cherished and lived fully every day.
I’ve been back to the beach no less than ten times since then; I haven’t seen him once. A random conversation with a stranger creating a long-term positive impact… there’s a part of me that wonders whom I was talking to!
Be well, brothers!
Jim Winner’s Winning Thursday Thoughts will appear every other Thursday. Jim is a member of WSN-MO and a former stockbroker and business owner. He resides in Carmel, IN and Naples, FL. You can write Jim at: email@example.com