It was a celebration enough for me when I first learned, after much
coaching and practice, to pronounce its nine letter name comprising an
extraordinary six vowels and three consonants. It's "Ess
... soo ... air ... rah", the native
Berber tribal name which means "the wall", a reference to
the fortress walls which originally enclosed this coastal city, many
of which still stand today.
My daughter Alexandra
and I are walking in Essaouira: from the old port harbor along the
seashore, or la plage de Mogador as it's known in French -
Our mood is so light, so easy going, so relaxed it's as if we're taking
a vacation from being on vacation. What makes this special is
what we're doing is
We're just being here, just being together, just being
alone together on an almost deserted beach in North
Africa. It's been quite a while since I rolled up my jeans and took off
my shoes and socks for a stroll on the beach. How ironic is it that I
had to travel all the way from California to Morocco to do it.
The beach sand, slightly reddish in color (given the color of the
Moroccan desert sands we saw from the air flying here, it's no
surprise) is a much finer grain than I've seen anywhere. It seems to
pack itself flat, as if it's been tamped down or even steam rolled -
also the first time I've seen this anywhere. We're tempted to swim.
It's certainly warm enough. We just don't know what the traditional
Arabic regard of visitors wearing swimsuits on their beaches would be.
So rather than unintentionally offend anyone, we pass on the idea. This
isn't a culture either of us are familiar with. But noticing many women
walking around almost completely covered with robes which reach the
ground, and head dresses which cover their heads leaving almost no room
by design for even their eyes to show, we aren't in any
hurry to bet on the appropriateness of wearing a Speedo
and a bikini in a public place.
is skipping along the water's edge. Yes, skipping. I'm touched,
moved, and inspired by her love of Life, her freedom, and her
joie de vivre. Watching her, I have no doubt I got
my job done raising her. To be sure, I also wanted her to have a
college education which she's in the process of completing. But that's
a relatively easy thing to acquire, compared to love of Life, freedom,
and joie de vivre. Seeing her at one with the beauty of the
beach, I'm deeply, deeply satisfied with how we both
I experience a
It's not located in any particular place. It's not her, and neither is
it me. It's not the beach. Nor is it the seagulls. Nor is it the sand
or the waves. It's all of it! Although I don't break the
magic by shouting out to her, now a bit further down the beach than I
am, I know she's experiencing it too. What she's
who she really is.
My Girly Girl has grown up and is now a woman. But she's
not just any grown up, and she's not just any
woman. She's a grown up woman who knows
who she really is.
It (which is to say, she) is the most beautiful, the most
magnificent thing I've seen in my entire life, and it's right here on
Mogador Beach in Essaouira. What she gives me when she shares her
magnificence with me this way is this: she gives me my own
magnificence. It's our willingness to recognize the magnificence of
another which gives us our own magnificence.
Then, at this exact moment when I recognize her magnificence
which gives me my own magnificence, that's when I hear Werner.
I look around the beach for a stick with which I can write in the sand
what I'm hearing. But there's no stick anywhere in sight - this beach
is clean. So I use what every human being has, to write in the
sand with: the index finger of my right hand.