Watching people by the Mediterranean

I wrote this piece back in 2013. It’s a celebration of silence and time alone, time to ponder, think and letting the mind unravel. I feel happiest when I find the space and time to think…….we are consumers, parasites really, that’s what humans are. Moments like the one below remind us that it is those quiet, reflective moments of contemplation and observation that meaning can be found, space where we are consuming nothing, rather observing life as it is, without judgment or opinion.


Wednesday July 10th 20132013-06-02 20.14.04Yesterday evening I did something I haven’t done for a very long time; I spent an hour on my own thinking. I walked to the furthest beach in my town and sat on a towel on the sand, staring at the Mediterranean. It was late, about 9.30pm. The sun was setting.

There was a family on my right and two men talking, on my left. I sat on my towel and watched the night birds fly across the sky. I watched the two men, obviously a couple, newly in love, laughing and talking. Their laughter and happiness had the sound of lustful anticipation. They were totally absorbed in each other, totally smitten.

The family on my right, consisted of a mum and a dad, two children, aged around ten and six and an older woman – a grandmother. The man had planted two fishing rods in the sand, the lines thrown out into the shallows and was doing a spot of night fishing. The children were totally absorbed in splashing about in the puddles of water, keeping a respectful distance from dad and his fishing rods. The women had set up a small bbq and were loading it with charcoal, preparing food. Each member of the family was caught up in what they were doing.

No one took any notice of me, sitting there on my towel, staring at the sea, and that was wonderful. I was the quiet, respectful observer of human interaction and it was a beautiful moment. I occasionally wondered if these two groups of people had noticed me looking at them, but I knew I was observing ‘respectfully’, not overtly.

Every now and again I lay down and stared at the sky, streaked with red and purple, watching the clouds. I was thinking about my next novel, about the characters growing before me in my mind. Then I got to thinking about people; people I know well; people I know through social media; people I have just met; people I have known for a long time.

The couple on my left, the two young men, were Spanish. I could hear them talking. They were good-looking, in their late 20s. The family was probably Catalan; I caught a few Catalan words on the breeze. I was wondering about their lives, their jobs, their backgrounds, what made them happy.

I starting studying the man with his fishing rods for a while. As it got darker, I noticed he had become  very still, standing there staring out at the sea. I wondered if he was doing what I was doing, meditating on a life filled with the exquisite detail of existence; the fish he would catch, the hugs he would give his wife and children, the satisfaction of eating dinner with his family on the beach at dusk.

At 10.30pm I got up and walked across the sand, barefooted, put on my sandals and found the road home. It had been a beautiful hour spent, deep inside the detail of humanity.


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