I was at the beach last week, just for an hour or so, trying to acclimate O to the place. He's not fond of that big body of water. I can see his point. It's really quite an overwhelming force. What are we doing playing in and around it anyway? But, I digress.
As I looked around, eye to viewfinder, I began to realize I'd seen this scene a hundred or more times before. Kids running from waves, kids dragging seaweed, kids laying in the shallow surf, kids digging, kids everywhere were digging... How does this happen, generation after generation, with no formal instruction and no apparent environmental inducements? I was stupefied.
Is there something about this place, which I cannot plainly see, that stimulates these actions? Is there some sort of collective evolutionary knowledge that is activated upon arriving at such an enormous and natural place? Is it the intensity of the sun without shade, the roar of the breakers, or the enormity of the sea with all it's power to entertain and to destroy? Is there some sort of primal call, long blocked out by adults, that lures children from ipods and hand held video games toward clumps of wet sand in hand or the sway of tiny bodies in the push and pull of the ocean?
I suppose it could be nothing more than a ripple like effect of knowledge being handed from one child to another, from the older to the younger, like school yard games that are never instructed. It's magical to think that the place can bring out our inner animal and encourage us to more fundamental actions which help reinforce millennia of adaptation. Really, it's magical to even think that such activity is somehow more desirous or wholesome.
Somehow thought, it is comforting to me to think these things.