1. 1.
    traveling from place to place, especially working or based in various places for relatively short periods.
    "the peripatetic nature of military life"
    synonyms:nomadic, itinerant, traveling, wandering, roving, roaming, migrant,migratory, unsettled
    "I could never get used to her peripatetic lifestyle"
  2. 2.
  1. 1.
    a person who travels from place to place.
  2. 2.
    an Aristotelian philosopher.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Graceful Living on the Gulf Coast: Expect the Unexpected

SAM with lucky redfish (it's not a keeper/outside of legal "slot size," so released) on 11-11-2012, Pensacola Beach Pier
It seems that no matter where you go these days, you are subjected to someone else's taste in music, usually not to your liking. Restaurants, shops, and workplaces want to hurry you along, stir you into a buying frenzy, or lull you into complacency with your lot in life. I usually tune out the tunes I hear. Lately, though, I've been hearing a song played at work that gives me a lot to think about: Tim McGraw's Live Like You Were Dying.

It certainly does not lull me into complacency with my lot in life or anything else for that matter. It's reminding me to notice things--expect the unexpected.

When you live near the sea (or maybe it's when you've lived for more than a few decades), you get used to having marvelous, unexpected things happen. The wind picks up, and the waves crash with increasing intensity and frequency. Life is charged with possibility.

Body of electric ray (?) found on beach near Destin, 11-3-2012
It's been happening a lot lately for some reason--the unexpected, I mean. Most of it has been good, and that's even more unexpected. What have we done to deserve it? Absolutely nothing. Can we expect it (the "good") to continue? Of course not. Life is nothing if not full of grace, even in death....

Several years ago, on a day not unlike Veteran's Day 2012, SAM, son, and I went to Pensacola Beach, expecting to have a sun-and-fun-filled day on the water, kayaking and relaxing on the sand. The wind and waves had kicked up a notch more than we expected. Kayaking in the Gulf was not an option so we relaxed on the beach and watched some adventurous souls venture into the chilly and choppy sea. There were rays of some sort darting to and fro in the water, and some people on the beach were following their progress.

Not more than an hour had passed when we heard some commotion happening nearby. Apparently, some swimmer was in trouble. People were yelling, ambulance sirens announced the arrival of emergency responders, and presently the body of a young man was dragged onto the beach from the crashing surf. We stayed where we were, not wanting to get in the way of some form of help arriving every few minutes from the parking lot nearby. A group of young men fell to their knees and began to pray. What was happening? We talked to some other people nearby who had ventured close to the tragic scene and then returned to their beach blankets, all of them with a stunned look on their faces. Apparently, a young man visiting the beach with a group from a local Christian college had a sudden heart attack and collapsed in the water. We all watched as a helicopter swooped down, creating a sudden, unnatural sandstorm. It collected the body of the young man along with a couple of his companions and disappeared in a cloud of noise and sand.

We could learn nothing more than speculation from the people we encountered as we walked toward the water's edge. The rays were still swimming back and forth along the beach, seemingly more agitated than before, and the swimmers were all beached. No one seemed eager to take a chance on meeting with something else dangerous or unexpected in the water.

The young man who was airlifted to a nearby hospital was never revived, we later found out. We have often wondered what could have happened to him. Finding the body of an electric ray (at least that's what we think it was) on the beach last weekend brought to mind the young man's demise. Somehow the connection of rays and a young man's sudden death made sense. Really? Death makes no sense. Neither does the wind, nor do the waves. Grace is nothing if not full of life, even in death.


  1. Hi W2W - we never know when our time is up or that of someone close - it's terrible when it happens to someone young and is so unexpected.

    Your story reminds us all that our life is of an unknown time - live it peacefully and to our best .. sadly we all struggle with this.

    Love the photos .. have happy days ahead .. cheers Hilary

  2. That's a huge fish SAM has! Such a sad post though to be nearby when a tragedy happens such as a young man dying. So sad.

  3. oh no! I've never heard of rays getting anyone in the Gulf. That's a terrible, sad story. :o(

    You're right unexpected things happen at the beach. I miss it so much~ <3

  4. Dear Walk2write,
    what a sad story - the poor young man might well have come in touch wth that fish and got an electric shock - and if you have a faint heart you might die. (I still think about that poisonous jelly fish this summer, where my daughter in law - a prize winning swimmer - could not move one arm, being out in the sea - shock and paralys for a while - we were near, otherwise, with someone unexperienced or elder person - one does not want to imagine).
    But on the other hand I don't want always be reminded of death to highten my gratitude - I am thankful, I know one can die any minute, but I enjoy what I have now.
    As to the music: Husband gives this term a lecture on 'elevator music' - for me this kind of music is ear pollution --- as those perfumes the put in the air of the big stores - a nuisance too.

  5. Such a thought-provoking post, W2W. Our family learned this lesson not quite two years ago when my niece's husband, a big, strapping guy who had just turned 40, died suddenly after getting a strange infection. It was so unexpected, and we all learned that you never know when death will come. Tim McGraw's song contains a lot of wisdom.

  6. That is a tragic story. Life is full of irony an unexpected twists. I shall be careful if I swim in Florida.

  7. What a powerful story. Tis a shame that we end up witnessing tragic moments as we walk this planet. But they sure do help us to be glad when joyful ones unfold. Peace and Hope

  8. How sorry for that young guy. His life was suddenly stopped without leaving him to live like he was dying. Who knows what life has in store for us, however, I'd not like to be too much worried about it and expect the unexpected.

  9. This post made me think of what fate/destiny is. I wonder if humans have any true control of their fate/destiny....I have had a couple of unexpected sad events so far. As Britta says, I'm thankful for "what I have now" and want to enjoy it. Thank you for this thought-provoking post!

  10. Death makes no sense......
    Yes, it can be anytime, anywhere.
    But I think there could be some connection between the two (the sting ray and the incident)
    But I am impressed by the quick response of the para medics.

  11. Expect the unexpected for sure. Losing a young son taught us that among other things....

  12. So sad when our lives brush up against tragedy. Even if we didn't know the young man, we still feel shock and sadness.

    Hope your family had a nice Thanksgiving.