The ceremony had ended. Family photos all complete. As we gave the sun a few more minutes to set, an older gentleman struck up a conversation with me. He began to tell me how nostalgic it was to be back along the exact beach we were standing on. I asked him to elaborate, and he told me that over 60 years ago, he was a helicopter pilot, based out of Elgin Air Force Base. He went on to say how he came to a point where he had to decide whether to reenlist or to end his time serving. He said he walked the beaches for an entire summer constantly thinking about what the right decision would be. Later that fall, he had made his choice and decided to get out of the Air Force. He looked down at the ground, raised his eyebrows, and said, "Two weeks later, the Vietnam war began. Had I not made the decision I did, I wouldn't be standing here today." He went on to tell me about the life he's lived, and places he's seen since the days of walking this beach.
This conversation and moment crossed my mind many times over the past few months, as I feel as though we all have relatable moments. Whether it's changing jobs, relocating, starting a new job, ending a relationship, starting a new one, chasing your dreams or realizing your dreams really aren't the same anymore, we've all walked our own mental beaches trying to decide what's right. I had a professor in grad school tell me, "You're going to find that most people already know the answer, they just need someone to listen." If you don't feel like you can help someone, maybe practice being someone's beach. Because every once in a while, we all need a beach to sink our thoughts into.