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The single sliver of light reaching over the Atlantic blossomed into a brilliant ball of white, pink and yellow radiance. I stood on the beach, toes pressed into the hard sand, while the waves played around my feet, teasing and stroking before retreating to the quiet and mysterious depths. I felt as small as the tiniest grains of sand and yet as giant and strong as the tides while the light washed over and welcomed me into a new day. I existed for a few moments without worries, cares, joy or sorrow.

A small, elderly man slowly made his way along the beach, his khaki pants worn, faded and frayed at the cuffs, and his white short-sleeve cotton shirt untucked and flapping in the morning breeze. His feet were covered in worn hirachi sandals the color of burned wood, while his head was protected by a faded blue baseball cap, the logo long ago washed away. His posture was stooped as he held an ancient-looking metal detector, rhythmically swaying from side to side in small, even strokes. Periodically he would gently place the mechanism on the sand and slowly bend to examine something buried beneath just the surface. He would then either return the item to the sand or place it in his pocket.

As he neared me, I could see intensity in his progress of methodically sweeping the beach. I wondered at all the items he might have placed in his pocket over the years, both valuable and worthless. Coins, rings, money clips, barrettes, toys, watches, gum foil or bottle caps. He collected small pieces of anonymous lives, intentionally left behind or lost without knowledge that would be made anew in another existence. He looked up and saw me watching him. He gently smiled and tipped the brim of his cap before moving on. I raised my hand and smiled in return.

I turned back to the sunrise, now high above the horizon blessing the new day with its radiant brilliance. I took a deep breath and exhaled, contentment enveloping me. For in that solitary moment when the elderly man and I had found each other’s eyes, I tossed to him the only item I wanted to leave on the beach. As he became a distant vision along the surf, there in his pocket, alongside the trinkets and coins, was my regret sent forward with every hope of being made anew.