Day 113: Goodbye Dead Man’s Beach

Goodbye Dead Man’s Beach

In the late spring of a bitter windy day, I wiped the grits of sand from my face and stared down below to the foggy beach. This would be the first time I’d see flaccid bodies all lined up in a row, bloated and an almost-blue.  I hadn’t wanted to watch or even glance a little.  I’d wished to run away or at least close my eyes, but I had to see.  This was another coming of a dream.  Some seven days had passed, seven long days of waiting and wondering who would drown.  I knew enough from my past and the way my dreams played out to realize death would be arriving on a Saturday—on a cold, cold Saturday.

I wondered as the workers desperately pressed and pumped on the already dying flesh, why life, or God, or whatever essence gave me these glimpses of future events, wouldn’t also go one step further and allow me to serve some purpose and exist as more than a detached helpless onlooker.   Had I had a magic button to stop the dreams, I thought at the time I would have.  But then I thought I would have missed the dreams in the way I would have missed my arm, or leg, or eye; the dreams were so much a part of me, a needed part, something I’d been born with which had served me in some sense; even though I couldn’t comprehend the reason, even though I cursed the visions and the following reality, I knew enough, innately or perhaps spiritually, to know the dreams were necessary.

The dreams would serve a higher purpose someday, I was told.  Not directly, but in whispers, gentle reminders to be patient, to be watchful, and to wait.  I would cry then, in my teens, in the same way I cry now, when the weight of the world is so heavy upon my shoulders that I wish for nothing but silence and the unknowing, to be like the mother across the street satisfied with her scrapbooking and classroom volunteering, and yearning for nothing more than the simple.

That’s what I longed for:  the sweet simple.

Those dead bodies below on the beach had been a family, the emptied vessels now covered in black bags on the sands below had been minutes before living tourists who hadn’t heeded the warnings posted at Dead Man’s Beach about the dangers of the ocean currents and under-tow.  One boy had fallen in off the rocks, and in response, each family member had leapt to their own death.

I have been terrified of the ocean, ever since the tragedy at Dead Man’s Beach. Add this to the horrific flesh-eating fish dreams I’ve had since I was three, and the time my mother’s boyfriend saw a shark take a chunk out of his best friend. (His friend died.) And I’ve been able to justify not going in the ocean for about twenty-five years.

Yesterday, I overcame my great fear of the sea. As I paddled out into the ocean on my surfboard, I was terrified. I trembled. I almost cried. I almost turned back. But I paddled onward.

I wasn’t planning on surfing at all while visiting Maui. But there I was, regardless of all my fears and misgivings, flat on my belly, in a borrowed, rather-stinky surf shirt, paddling over the waves. And I got up on my surfboard, not once, but at least five times and rode the waves.

They may have looked like little waves to the observer. But to me they were the biggest darn waves of my life.

I’ve realized I have spent much of my forty-some years living on my own Dead Man’s Beach. I’ve been counting my days. Worrying about lurking dangers. Terrified to be happy.

This evening, as I sat in a local bar having yet another fruity rum drink (a new thing for me), the musician played Here Comes the Sun, and I was brought back to a summer day in Oregon, when at the age of nine I was riding in the back of a pickup truck listening to that song. I remember at that age I had an intense feeling of happiness and freedom. It was one of the last times I remember feeling so elated.

Yesterday, when I rode the waves, I returned to that sunny day in the back of the truck. I walked off of Dead Man’s Beach and I found my sun again.

A wise man once told me that he asks everyday: “How can life get any better?”

25 thoughts on “Day 113: Goodbye Dead Man’s Beach

        I HOPE SO ….
        TONS O LOVE XO

      2. HAWAII !!!!!!!!!!!! AYAYAYAYAYAYYAYAY

        26 F HERE …….

  1. Hi Sam,

    A few years ago our 7 year old nephew was visiting us at our lake place and at the end of the day he went up to his mother, puffed up his chest a bit and said with very matter-of-fact pride, “I faced 5 fears today.” I was proud of him, as well as a bit stunned at his tremendous self-awareness and willingness to list all his fears to his mother, and I thought, “this kid is cool.” I say this because I realized too, that day, that it isn’t just with children, and in childhood that fears exist, it is in adults as well, only we are not as open as children in expressing we have them. This is unfortunate for suppressing them is not nearly as healthy as my nephew’s honesty. So kudos to you, for puffing up your chest a bit, and for the self-awareness, willingness and courage to both face and admit your fears. You are cool! 🙂

    Glad your vacation is full of what will definitely be life-long memories.


  2. What an experience to overcome and face a fear….Fruity rum drink and here comes the sun is a nice cherry on top of a whipped cream day ))))

  3. This exceeds facing fears for which I commend you. I could not help but focus on what solidified those fears in your youth. The premonition of the deaths on that beach really is something that resonates with me. Not in that same way with a knowing of the timing but I had kind of a similar experience of knowing of a future event that would change my life in a permanent way for years through my childhood until it happened. That knowing is haunting and dreaded but not detachable.

    That kind of fear is something not many people can understand. You write about it in a way that gets to my very core. I admire you. I’m proud of you. You are a kind of hero when you face a fear- you are a superhero when you conquer a mindset and a part of you that pains you and turn it into elation. That takes talent, strength and peace. xoxo

    1. You write so well. Your comments are always so fantastic. You could get a job at boosting self-esteem. Interesting that this resonates with you. I would be curious to know what your knowing was about some day. Yes, I think you are right, many do not understand this type of fear. Thank you so much for your kindness. I will carry your words with me. 🙂 hugzzz ~ Sam

  4. Hey Sam! Looks like you are seizing life as it comes! Good for you. I’m glad you are having a such a fun and enriching time. Sharks can be trouble but all you need to do is punch them right in the nose and they back off just like the rest of them bullies.
    Ride those waves! 🙂

  5. Beautiful, Sam. Although your post deals with conquering your fears and meeting challenges, this quote sits with me:

    “I would cry then, in my teens, in the same way I cry now, when the weight of the world is so heavy upon my shoulders that I wish for nothing but silence and the unknowing, to be like the mother across the street satisfied with her scrapbooking and classroom volunteering, and yearning for nothing more than the simple.”

    I often wonder about these content people, who don’t heave and shiver at the joys and despairs of the world. I feel isolated, anchored to different perceptions. Sometimes, the weight of anxiety supresses opportunity.

    I am proud of you for immersing yourself. I am grateful that you shared your revelation. I am going to do something new this week. I promise myself. I promise you. Pinkswear!


  6. my my my…what a jolt that was!!!! lol…i was gonna read this last night but managed to hold off…upon seeing the word “dead”…i thought…oh well…i better read this tomorrow…knowing my ever active imagination, i knew i’d be having those nightmares again…good for you, Sam — for overcoming your fears…proud of you…i have vivid recollections of 2 major incidents in my lifetime where i looked at “death in the eye”…no joke…it really happened and both incidents played something like…maybe i have a purpose in life? maybe i was made to live this life for a reason???? i don’t know why or what…but i’ll just let it play out on its own…all i know is i’m alive and for whatever reason…i’m here to serve others or whatever purpose i was given to stay alive…i don’t know, but i am willing to let it be…thanks for sharing your story, Sam…love love it!!!! hugssss 🙂 🙂

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