Sandboxes, the ubiquitous play areas in Japanese parks and playgrounds, allow children who live far from the sea to enjoy building sand castles, digging tunnels and playing in the sand right outside their front door.
When you take a closer look at the sand around you, you will see it is comprised of finely crushed rocks, shells and coral, appearing to be much the same as any other type of sand. However, I have heard stories of police retrieving small bits of sand from a Japanese criminal’s jeans pocket, discovering that the sand was from a beach in the U.S. and analyzing the criminal’s travel patterns. Better be careful of what finds its way into your pockets…
Ever since I began researching sea turtles and their struggles up the beach to lay their eggs, I’ve been fascinated by “footprints” left in the sand. Sandy beaches everywhere provide a canvas for creatures, documenting their activities. Like the sea turtles in the sand, the tiny footprints a cat leaves on a wet sidewalk before it dries are also precious to me, a kind of aesthetic proof they were there.
Just as intriguing is the beauty of the wind as it blows the concrete dry and the sandy beaches flat and clear. If the wind blows strong and long enough, it, too, leaves behind smooth, undulating lines in a beautiful sand dune with a sand signature all its own. There is great peace and freedom lying eyes closed and muscles relaxed on an untouched beach as the bright rays of the sun heat the beach in a warm glow.
In that moment I always think back to the words of Jerry Lopes, the “Lord of the Tube,” responding to a question from the audience. “What should I do when I wake up and just don’t want to go to work?” they asked.
After some thought, Jerry replied, “Before you open your front door, close your eyes and think back to a time when everything was right. Maybe remember a good ride on the waves. For a moment just let your mind rest on that thought. Then…open the door.”
I suppose Jerry was suggesting we can determine and control our own state of mind by focusing on a positive moment in time. When I close my eyes, I dream of that warm, sandy beach. “High tide, high tide,” I say to myself, the old Japanese phrase meaning things are looking up.
Even seated in front of my computer, this recitation brings a sense of peace. “Maybe I’ll just keep my eyes shut…” I think as I begin to drift toward sleep.
“No, not just yet.” I think as I resist the pleasant drowsiness, trying to maintain self-control as I reach the end of this column.