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The Pace of Freedom in Brookings, Oregon

Otter Rainbow Rock BeachFreedom is slow. It lacks the weariness and worry of the workday. Freedom strolls through the hours as if it had all the time in the world. Every moment seems to matter and to sharpen into clarity. No more the wicked counting of minutes. No more the squeal of the alarm clock. No more the bustle and heat of the work week.

Freedom has all the time in the world. It means sitting on the couch all day watching old movies while the rain pours outside. It means rising with the sun and losing oneself on weatherworn paths bordered by spicy ferns and ancient redwoods. It means getting in the car and driving through the curves and shadows of Highway 101, just because you can.

In this place, the pace of life leaves room for freedom. Ralph Waldo Emerson supposed that we must, “Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience.” Nowhere more than the beach, is the pace of nature more clear: the daily ebb and flow of the tides, the monthly pull of the moon. Every day the salt and spray move back imperceptibly to reveal the pools and puddles cupped in the rocks. The starfish reach out their patterned arms to hug the stones, and the sea anemones waft gently in a breeze that only they can feel. The little fish wink out of sight as the shadow of a gull passes over their sanctuaries. Every month the moon lifts herself, like a kite filled by the sharp briny wind of the sea, high into the sky to watch the silver edged waves crash in the darkness.

starfish Harris Beach State ParkSo, there is a structure of sorts. Nature keeps her own time, but in her pace there is freedom. Only nature prods you to do something. Hunger pushes you to munch on plump blackberries or to create a new dish entirely on your own. Your lungs cry for deep gulps of salty air as your tennis shoes pound out a rhythm on the sand. The same keen air urges you closer to the glowing embers of driftwood and to curl your fingers around a fiery mug of Oregon Chai.

In this place you have the freedom to set your own pace. You can paddle a sea kayak at the brisk pace of the frisky seals and sea otters, or you can sit and float with the kelp and the puffins. No one will tell you how fast to go. Some, like my neighbor, decide in favor of a bracing mile-long swim around Bird Island. Others meander down to the harbor for a leisurely game of chess and a cup of coffee at the Salty Dog Coffee Bar.

The days seem longer in the poignant brevity of each moment. Your eye catches a flash of deep purple and blue from a happy hydrangea that thrives in the damp air. Your fingers test the smoothness of a pebble, searching for the warmth of an inner glow that means it’s an agate.

Your mind stills because you know that at this pace, in this place, you are free.

About the Author: Serena Hamann: I am a college student majoring in International Relations and Spanish. I just returned from a semester abroad in Oviedo, Spain. I live in Southern-Central Oregon, and my parents recently acquired a house on the Coast. I’m enjoying the pleasures of home after being away for so long. Find me on Facebook.

Wave breaking off of Bird Island

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