Empty Fort Lauderdale Beach

Why are our beaches empty?

Overheard from a woman on cell phone, “I’m a person that works all the time, now I can’t work, so I am out walking every day!”

That comment made my head snap—I was heavily into my own speed walk but hearing this comment made me stop to wonder, will this woman remember how good it felt to get out and walk, so that when she goes back to work, she’ll still make time to walk—maybe not every day, but a few times a week?

These are the questions that COVID-19 will leave each of us to answer. Where do YOU want to go from here?

You can get back to “normal” – IF that ever recurs, but my gut says that we will keep this experience in our memories for a while. We are prone to short memories, as with the 9/11 terrorist attacks. How do we NOT remember that every day of our lives? How are we only reminded each September when the news media tells us that we are upon a new anniversary—and counting–this year is 19! The remnants are cleared and so is our conscience and memory? How does that happen?

The everyday rush to do, be, accomplish, acquire, rate, register, upload and download causes us to forget that just less than two decades ago, another culture tried to obliterate the vision of American accomplishment—terrorists sought to destroy our emotional and physical infrastructure with a series of airplane crashes into our symbols of freedom and democracy—the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and those who never made their destination but crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. We forget that somehow—until we go to the airport and have to take off our shoes, and scan our luggage,  but an entire generation does not know why we do that. They think it is “normal.”

And so what will our new “normal” be? It will largely be what you choose, and what those you choose to elect into governing office decide. These are strange social and political times. We are all entitled to our choices, but it has never been more important to choose what you want for your future. It can be fear, it can be caution, it can be courage, but YOU need to decide.

Those decisions will be tempered by your circumstances. Those who have elderly parents and family with disabilities in their care have considerations to keep those endangered loved ones safe. Those in dense city populations need to think about their surroundings and the number of people in their breathing space. Those in rural areas can breathe a little easier, but they can still look at outsiders, visitors or those outside their circle as a threat. Some of us may just be “over” the whole ordeal and want to get on with our lives, but we must still think of how our actions impact others. This experience has hopefully made us more aware of all the complications and how we deal with them.

Could compassion, empathy, courtesy and respect be the ensuing values we take from this crisis? Could appreciation for the outdoors, exercise, our families and friends be a benefit? Could we accept that we cannot control our environment or our regulations but agree to accept them?

The latter has been my biggest challenge. I battle my own resistance to feeling controlled  and what I see as a confiscation of my freedoms, as compared to the reasons for the restrictions and mandates. Though I see no logic to many of the rules, I try to understand that people are doing their jobs. I try not to accuse them of conflicts of interests—like government employees who are NOT working, being considered “essential” employees–while many of us in other services and businesses are considered “fluff.” Our tax dollars at work—but not really at work for us!

I am constantly reminded of those in “essential” services who put their lives on the line to protect us—medical teams, first responders and I will add law enforcement, though when I see them lined up on the beach, “protecting” us from the sand and surf, my blood pressure rises and my hair stands on end. I try to tell myself that is selfish—that  my craving for a beach run and ocean swim is not the most important thing to the community—but it IS to ME! The fact that the singularly most healthy activities we can do are denied us, is eating at my very being, as I know that swimming and activity in the sun and on the sand are among the most therapeutic things we can do to fight this virus and BE healthy!  The virus hates sun and heat, so why are we NOT encouraging people to go to the beach and swim, walk and run?!

It makes NO sense that the City of Ft. Lauderdale’s Mayor is using fear as the basis for keeping the beaches closed. He reminds us of an event that happened in 2013 when Urban Beach Weekend was cancelled in Miami and “large crowds” poured into Fort Lauderdale which the city could not control, so they used tear gas to clear the beaches. Is this really the logical reason to keep the beaches closed until after Memorial Day weekend? Why is it we can control crowds for huge beach events like the Tortuga Music Festival, but not for our patriotic Memorial Day?

We have law enforcement on the beach in numbers, and lifeguards patrolling NO ONE but law abiding citizens walking and biking and running on the SIDEWALK, but NOT the sand!  They closed an additional lane of traffic on A1A to accommodate more pedestrians and bicyclers, but this was not really necessary as people were not coming in throngs to the beach when nothing was open. Now that we have limited capacity for seating, perhaps these businesses can try to right themselves, having missed most of the season, and get back to serving at least the residents here—and the remaining tourists and visitors!

Why do we live in fear instead of in the possibility of what could be? Because we are asked to put our trust in our elected officials, but they do not have this same trust in us as their constituents. They fear we will behave badly and not respect social distancing and come out to PARTY on the holiday as humans are wont to do! Miamians came in droves to Naples, crowding the beaches, so they closed them during midday hours, being open to residents only 7-11 AM and 5-8 PM. So the Naples residents are punished for the badly behaved Miamians.

Same with Broward residents. Palm Beach’s City Council petitioned the Governor and got latitude to open weeks earlier. Our Broward elected officials preferred to live in fear, following the cowardly and fear-mongering Miami Mayor. I am sickened by these men who have no spine. They were elected to help those they represent, but instead, they choose to perpetuate fear, not progress.

Those who are in danger—those who have compromised immune systems, are elderly or who have health issues should understandably stay at home. Unfortunately, the morbidly obese, those with heart disease and diabetes, who comprise a significant segment of the American population, largely due to unhealthy nutrition and exercise patterns, do not see themselves as in that position because they made bad choices; they see themselves as victims. When we can help unhealthy people understand that THEY can make changes in their lifestyles that can change their predisposition to disease, then we will have made the biggest accomplishment in history. This will be BIGGER than a vaccine for COVID-19. Those who are healthy will not NEED the vaccine—our immune systems will be strong enough to fight this and other viruses and bacteria. We do not need MORE Purell; we need BETTER health to fight disease.

I invite you all to join me in the fight against COVID and other diseases by taking a stand for YOUR OWN HEALTH. I watched my father in a slow progressive path to death after he stopped living an active life. He was old, he was tired, and he deserved a rest, but he sat down and didn’t get back up. It broke my heart to see him deteriorate because he couldn’t see a way to move without pain and was not motivated to DO anything with his life. I do not want to see anyone else fade away into a long, slow, painful death when YOU have the power to make the decisions to CHANGE your lifestyle and incorporate movement into your life.

Like the woman on the phone who realized she could now walk every day instead of just work—will you make a commitment to yourself—and those who care about you—to just try to keep moving?  I guarantee you will find the Power of Movement so inspiring and so much fun that you will WANT to keep moving—but you have to start with a small step—really you have to start by standing up!  I’ll stand up for you if YOU stand up for you!

Vitality Living—Transforming Lifestyles—by taking a stand.  Stand up—and move!