We barely knew one another, but the connection was unmistakable. It was a comfortable familiarity that spoke of mutual understanding and acceptance, as if we each knew what the other was about, regardless of any surface detail.
It was a warm, blustery autumn day and we had the beach to ourselves. As we strolled along, stopping to pick up the odd stone or shell that caught our eyes, we chatted a little, alternating between enthusiastic conversation and listening to a quiet communion that was happening between us on a deeper level.
In a spontaneous gesture that felt true to the moment, I took his hand in mine, slipping my fingers between his larger ones. He squeezed my hand in return, acknowledging that the gesture felt right for him too, and we continued to walk until we reached the high dunes at the far end of the sand. There, we sat down together, then followed the moment a little deeper, lying back in the marram grass and wrapping our arms around each other.
The rest of our brief time was spent like that, held in the warmth of a spontaneous connection and watching the clouds whisk by. We didn’t even kiss, although sometimes I wish we had, nor did we say anything more after that other than ‘I think it’s time to go now.’ All other dialogue happened at a non-verbal level and it touched us both deeply.
It was a beautiful day out of time for me. I wasn’t looking for an ongoing relationship, nor did I get the impression that he was either. I had little time as it was for all I had packed into my life. It was just that life had gotten a little heavy—full of things to do, thoughts to think, situations to work out and understand.
It seemed, that day, that my new friend and I both just needed a friend, rather than a soul mate or lover, and a re-connection to the simplicity of being held without question or expectation. We were looking to find again that innocence of being accepted totally for who we were, no matter what roles we had taken on in our lives, what myriad ‘hats’ we chose to wear, or what path we considered ourselves to be on. The fact that we’d found each other just at the right moment, seemingly by chance across distance and time, was the only prompt we needed to accept the gift that synchronicity had delivered to us.
Sometimes we spend so much time caught up in our roles—in relationships, careers, families, spiritual groups—that we lose sight of ourselves. The more our identity gets caught up in these roles and paths, the easier it is to drift from a core essence that is always there and to assume our external reality is who we really are. All we see mirrored back to us is our outer face. Others’ expectations of us as their lover, parent, teacher, and even friend, as well as our own expectations of ourselves in these roles, become who we identify with.
A fresh mirror, like my ‘stranger friend,’ has no baggage with us and has the capacity to reflect us back to ourselves again.
But that’s not what I remember most about that afternoon, though. What has stayed in my mind and heart ever since has been the simple joy of being held in innocence. There was a deep sense of relief—like a full-bodied sigh—in being held with acceptance and love, and in having another welcome my embrace as openly in return.
It wasn’t the innocence of childhood, though. It was a wiser innocence that comes with the appreciation of how wonderful simplicity can be when it has been missing. It was an innocence that delighted in hearing another’s heartbeat against my ear and in holding a large, warm body close in my arms.
And it didn’t matter that it was only for a few hours. They were hours that have stretched on ever since in my memory, always there to drift back to when life starts to get complicated again.
We all need moments that remind us of innocent joy to hold onto in our minds. They are the moments that help us to adjust our vibration to a happier frequency when static starts to build up on the direct connection, as it inevitably does from time to time.
Afterward, we managed to resist the temptation to make more of what had happened, although the head kicked back in with its labels and the fragile ego wanted to repeat the experience since it had offered such pleasure. I returned from that perfect day more in touch with my soul, more peaceful and ready to relate to the world from my core. I’d followed my heart, found what I needed and had the courage to reach for it. And that was all I’d ever needed to do.
It was love, no (mental) strings attached.
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Ed: Sara Crolick