There is a beach story I once heard that goes something like this …

A developer visited a beautiful beach. While there he encountered an old man on the shore.

“This is a beautiful spot the developer said.” 

“Yes it is,” the old man answered.  “It has been in my family for hundreds of years.”

“You know,” said the developer, “you and I could partner and build a beautiful ocean view resort right on this spot. Lots of people would come and we could make loads of money, then you could retire and do whatever you want.”

The old man smiled and answered, “why would I want to spoil this beautiful spot with development that pollutes the ocean and mars the area. I don’t need money to do what I want. I already do what I want. Everyday I walk on the beach, fish from the ocean, enjoy beautiful sunsets and fall asleep to the sound of the waves. I am a very happy man.”

That story speaks volumes to me, as I live in the beach town of  San Clemente at the southernmost tip of Orange County, CA. For a long time it was a little known spot, population 10,000. When you walked down the street you most always encountered someone you knew, and the hills above the beach were filled with cattle and wildlife.

In those early days, a deer and her doe visited the pond below our home every morning, and in the evening a bobcat stopped by, peeking into our sliding glass door. Then turning away satisfied, he sauntered slowly across our back hill and into the wilds behind our property.

Our summer vacations were spent at one of the town’s many beaches, where I watched my sons surf, played volleyball, read or just chatted with friends. Not much was required, just food/beverage, the sand, the sun and the sea.

Progress is inevitable, but there is a part of me that misses those times when San Clemente was just a small underdeveloped beach town, far away from the maddening crowds. And when I think of that story of the old man on the beach, I know that in spite of it all the simple life is still here to be found  …  I only need to visit the shore and bathe myself in the sand, the sun and the sound of the sea.

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