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Random Reflections

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Growing Old

Aaaah, the carefree time of youth! It is a beach party on the seashore of life in early summer: beach balls, sand castles, seashells, and eternal sunshine. Puffy cumulous clouds hover lazily in the summer sky. The sweltering mantle of sand beneath our feet is teeming with bronzed young girls in bikinis, idly strolling along the beach, while multitudes of languishing sunbathers recline lazily in the sun on their blankets. And beneath their multi-colored umbrellas, young couples seek a brief refuge from the sun, sprawl together, sip on their sodas, and gaze at the sea. Children play in the sand as groups of frolicking teenagers assemble in groups, flirting, playing, and laughing. Flocks of graceful seagulls hang almost motionless, momentarily suspended on the invigorating warm breath from the sea.

      The cacophonous blend of sounds and smells of the lively beach intermingle: Competing muted strains of music from portable radios blend with the repetitious lapping of the incoming breakers; and floating in the balmy air, the faint aroma of suntan lotion mingles with the fishy, heady aroma of the briny sea.

      We view the distant sailboats, bathed in brilliant sunlight as they move parallel to the beach, with their slanting sails surrendering to the gentle breeze, inching slowly windward through the blue-green expanse of the ocean. With the exuberance of the young, we join in happy laughter with our friends.

      The prevalent attitude is a mixture of spontaneity and enthusiasm. Our youthful optimism tells us that this carefree day will last forever, for when we are young, the exhilaration of the beach seems eternal.


      But when we reach our autumn years and examine the wake we left behind us, we realize that the summer beach party was brief. Our carefree time at the seashore was simply a fleeting moment in our lives; for it is merely a youthful perception of reality, only an illusion of an accurate measure of time.

      We will never again visit the beach in early summertime; for old age limits our seashore excursion to late September, when the gaiety of summer is waning, and will soon be forever gone. Many of our old friends have long ago departed from the beach; hence the mood is no longer carefree, but lethargic and melancholy.

      With the seashore now mostly deserted, our search for distant sailboats reveals merely the infinite expanse of an empty ocean. Only a belated sunbather, an occasional beachcomber, the incessant roar of the sea, and a couple of hovering seagulls display any evidence of life. It is a desolate, lonely expanse of ocean and sand where only a few people reluctantly linger, and the harsher incoming winds from the sea forewarn the melancholia of a rapidly approaching autumn. The lazy cumulous clouds are gone, displaced by a darkening overcast sky and a descending amber sun as it nears the horizon.

      In this final sigh of summer, we reluctantly anticipate the chilling winds of late autumn and winter. With lonely reflection, we wait for the ultimate sunset that precedes the darkness; and gaze in contemplation at the mysterious, eternal sea.

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