At the Edge of a Continent, Far Away from Anything Else

When I told a co-worker at my day job where I was going on vacation, she laughed. I can’t blame her: why would anyone go to a seaside resort alone and off season?

Motel by the Seaside

I came to Cape May Point in New Jersey (though the snaps you’ll see are from my visit to Wildwood Crest this afternoon and evening) because it’s at the edge of the continent, a pinnacle surrounded by water. One thing people have always done: at times of change, difficulty and growth they go to liminal spaces.

Motel and Swimming Pool

This tradition stretches as far back as we have records. In ancient Athens, all young men aged 17-18 would be sent to the very boundaries of the city-state to guard it against attack. When they came back, they’d be men. In the nineteenth-century, the sick may be sent to some sanitorium in the Swiss Alps: so far from home in every respect. Going far away from our daily lives—spending time at an edge—is curative, restorative and helps us grow.

So I chose my own liminal space to be in. I chose a seaside resort at a time when there would be no-one here. Most stores and restaurants are shuttered for the season. The beaches are empty. This place is “other.”

Lifeguard Chairs (off season)

So here, while I stand on firm ground, the uncertainty of water entirely surrounds me. To make progress, I have to come to understand this. By the time I leave, I will be at peace with it.

It has been a tough few months. There’s no need to go into that here. I’m now entering what I hope is a time of healing and progress. And that is why I came here, to the edge of the continent at the wrong time of year.

Sunset and water

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About Richard

I am a writer who travels endlessly. Fascinated by how our lives are propelled forward by what's left behind, I thirst to know everything. I read, collect, gather, organise, list. Here are some of the things I read, see and experience. Please make yourself at home: drinks and pretzels will be served shortly. If you'd like to get in touch, I'd love to hear from you!

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