Mind Blown In A Hammock

Hammock at sunset

We camped at Myrtle Beach State Park this year, March 13th through March 21st to be exact. When we left Virginia to head for South Carolina, the COVID-19 issue was more of a curiosity than a concern. We seriously didn’t give it much of a thought.

By the afternoon of March 16th, it became an issue at the park because they closed the camp store. We started hearing more and more on the news, and more cases, and deaths, were being reported every day.

I’m not really one to panic about much of anything. I’ve seen some horrific things in my life, and have planned, and made preparations for myself and my family. What I do get concerned about is panic at a local and national level. I took a trip to Myrtle Beach Costco to buy a few things just to make sure we were stocked up for the week. You could see that people were started to get a little itchy.

Yes, the COVID-19 panic of 2020 impacted our vacation, but not for the reasons that I have mentioned so far in this post. We were able to grocery shop, call a Park Ranger to have firewood delivered from the camp store, and services at the park were available. Myrtle Beach State Park is one of my favorite campgrounds.

No, our vacation was impacted by a situation completely out of our control that was shutting down milestones and events in our lives.

The week prior to heading down to the beach to camp, all of our kids had events cancelled.

Things ranging from participating in a dance competition, swimming in a National Championship meet, and learning that our oldest child’s NCAA Lacrosse season was cancelled, and it is his senior year. (We have since learned that his physical commencement has been rescheduled to October 2020, even though degrees will be conferred in May 2020).  Emotions were running high (or low?), causing us to be on the verge of tears at different times, for different reasons.

It was a subdued week to say the least, but the fact that we were camping on the beach made it bearable. We were in a beautiful place and could do some fun things together as a family.

On the last full day of our stay, we spent the afternoon down on the beach. My wife mentioned wanting to hang out on the beach for sunset, and I suggested:

“Why don’t we literally hang out at the beach by strapping our hammocks to the pier?”

She thought I was insane. Who does that?

We took all of our beach gear back to the camper, got the kids situated with showers and snacks, and headed down to the beach for some grown up time.

She strapped her hammock on pilings closest to (but not in) the ocean, and I strapped my hammock one row of pilings closer to shore. I tested my straps, climbed up into position, and kicked back to take in the sunset of our last night on the beach.

There were no people anywhere on the beach, and no one walking above us on the pier.

To my left, the waves were crashing within feet of me. The noise of the ocean drowned out all other sounds, not even the cry of a gull made it over the crashing water.

I was struck by the immensity of everything.

The Atlantic disappearing to my left, the clouds above me climbing into the heavens, the beach at my feet falling to infinity — the indescribable beauty that no iPhone in my hand can capture.

Slowly rocking in my hammock, staring at the sunset, and listening to the crashing ocean.

Everything bouncing around in my brain stopped.

A period of incredible focus, both visually and mentally, and for a moment, all of worries of the past few days fell away.

I started to consider how huge the Earth seems, but so small in comparison to the solar system, galaxy, and universe.

How small we all are in comparison.

Thoughts of my grandparents, all of which are no longer physically present in this dimension. Were they aware of the impact they had on my life? Do they know that I still think about them every day. I’m pretty sure they couldn’t have known while they were alive, but how about now? Where is their energy? Is it here with me now, and if so how did they find me?

How can you feel people so near you, but know that they aren’t physically there?

It was amazing, and incredible, and scary.

And then, like a switch, my mind fell silent and presented me with one question:

“Will people think about me like this one day?”

As I considered that question, I became aware of the tears flowing down my cheeks.