Moments of Beauty

Why, when we’re someplace so surreal in its beauty, or in a moment so perfect in its entirety, do we close our eyes? I catch myself doing it often, yet I’ve never realized how illogical it seems. And somehow it isn’t learned… it is as natural a reaction as one can have.

I’m totally alone, sitting on a piece of driftwood, on an isolated island in Indonesia, staring at the sea when my eyes shut. I keep them closed.

Right now my mind is saying “Sure, what you see is beautiful. But stop. Feel the calm wind and taste the salt in it’s touch. Listen to the waves breaking in the distance. Fill your lungs with air and lift your head to the sky. Say ‘Thank You,’ out loud, for this moment. And feel the gratitude so tangibly it gives you chills.”

I open my eyes and realize they are filled with tears. The completeness of this moment is so overwhelming–and the joy is so intense–the chills continuously ripple down my back, perfectly mimicking the tidepools vibrating in the breeze in front of me. A single ghost crab is scuttling over mini mountains of wet sand at low tide. A solitary white bird is jackhammering its beak in the shallowest pool, enjoying its lunch.

With a jolt, I realize that a man in a bright red shirt is 10 feet to my right, walking alone down the beach. He’s the first person I’ve seen in an hour and it startles me. In this green and blue moment I’ve been living in, his shocking red shirt almost makes me fall off my driftwood chair.

I think I’d briefly forgotten red was a color.

I shield my tear-filled eyes as I look up, smile, and ask, “How are you?”

And as he strolls by he replies, “I’m wonderful,” with a smile so genuine, I know he means it completely. This moment we’re in is too real for automatic responses or niceties. I watch his red shirt slowly disappear around the circumference of this tiny island.

And it’s lovely to share the beauty of this place, in a few seconds and a handful of words, with this stranger. Because that’s all it needs.

Gili Air, Indonesia
“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.” ―Henry David Thoreau

Originally published at on January 30, 2016.