I take a deep breath and inhale the sweet smell of pot, Venice Beach’s signature fragrance. At Venice Beach, everyone congregates for the sunset. I don’t know if people do this all along the West Coast but I know that it happens in Venice every night. It’s an event: God’s BYOB firework show. Bikers, surfers, medical marijuana smokers, bird watchers, lovers. They all get tickets.
The surfers brave the cold to get front row seats, only available to those wrapped in skin tight wet suits.
A woman near me holds up her cat against the sunset with her left hand while taking a picture with her right. The cat is in costume matching the orange sunset. The cat and it’s owner come to the show every night.
A couple near me pops champagne and leans in close to each other. Others take heart-shaped engagement pictures against the sky.
Two sisters, a 10 and a 5 year old, dance in the coming waves, each move of the tide a new reason for joy. As I watch them, I realize that I want to be like them. I want to dance in the face of the unknown. I want to never grow tired of the ocean. I want to never take for granted how magnificent the sun is. How magnificent God is.
As I sit reading a self-help book on body image, I watch as the two pose for their dad’s camera, arms in the air like superstars, completely unaware of anyone watching them.
Curly hair bouncing, teal tutu twirling, I haven’t seen such joy in a while. I think grown ups sometimes forget that it exists. Grown ups are self-conscious. Grown ups do “skinny arm” in pictures and un-tag the ones that aren’t flattering. Grown ups worry that the water is too cold, that our hair might get messed up, that we might get sick. Grown ups don’t play in the water with clothes on; that’s what bathing suits are made for. Grown ups don’t ‘waste time’ dancing before the sun, but instead try to fit in as much work before it sets. Grown ups try to be as productive as possible, working more, harder, longer.
The surfers get it. They play in their adult playground, weaving in and out of the pier, slowly becoming silhouettes in front of the sun.
The sun’s reflection dances on the blue ocean and I half expect the spectators to give the sky a round of applause.
And then, just like that, the moment is over.
Blood red hue engulfs the sky in every direction. People turn to shadows and the pier slowly empties back onto land.
The onlookers dwindle to those lost in conversation and those waiting for the encore as the moon rises behind us.
The night turns cold and dark, but I cannot move.
I’m convicted. I’m nostalgic. I’m sad. I’m joyful. I’m inspired.
I’m reminded of Matthew 19:14, when Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.“
And I think about 2 Samuel 6:14 when “David danced before the Lord with all of his might.“
Am I missing it? After watching these little girls dance their hearts out, unaware of onlooking strangers, I am at another crossroads. I think we all are.
Do we choose to be bogged down by work, financial issues, relationship drama, and anxiety about the future? Or instead, do we choose to dance before the setting sun and decide that it’s okay if our clothes get wet?
Moments are everything. Don’t miss them.