This morning, I’m sitting here thinking it doesn’t get much better than this. It is still early. The sun is up and so I am. Everything is quiet. I’m sitting on a sixth floor balcony, drinking coffee, and looking out across the Gulf of Mexico. There is a huge ship in the far distance. A few people, mostly older ones, stroll along the sandy beach, near the edge of the water. Some hold hands. The younger ones are still asleep. White seagulls and brown pelicans glide by at eye level. I am listening to the rhythmic sounds of the lapping gulf waves. I could slip back into sleep sitting out here. Then, suddenly some guy cranks up a gasoline powered floor scrubber and begins cleaning the pool deck, directly below me. Now I’m thinking, well, it could get a little better than was better! If my mama was still alive, she would go down there and ask him if he knew he wasn’t supposed to do that on Sunday...especially when he’s disturbing her youngest son’s “It doesn’t get much better time.” Mama is in heaven where I’m sure there are no gas-powered floor scrubbers. They don’t need them there.

Today is my daughter Ashley’s birthday. She is now the exact age I was when she made me a father, and she is exactly half the age I am now. Her mom and I rented this place for a long weekend for Ashley’s birthday. Well, that’s the truth but not the whole truth. I came down here to do a music concert Friday evening, at a church in Panama City. In case any other churches or groups in this area, or any other beach area, need me to come, call me Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii! I decided since I was going to be here on a Friday, the whole family might as well come for the weekend and celebrate her birthday. Yesterday my family swam with the jellyfish, while I watched from a safe distance and underneath a giant beach umbrella. I didn’t so much as dip my big toe in the water. Between the recent rise in reported shark bites, rumors of flesh eating bacteria in the water, and now jellyfish, I was tempted to stay on the balcony.

I guess my age might have something to do with it. I remember, but barely, a time when I wouldn’t have thought of spending a weekend at the beach and not even get in the water. I guess my problem now is not so much the dangers that lurk in those waters as it is that I’ve been in them so many times the thrill is gone. I was practically grown before I ever laid eyes on the Gulf of Mexico. I thought she was one of the most beautiful sites I had ever seen and larger than the Sylvania Lake! I stood there and gazed in wonder. Since that day I’ve looked across the oceans on both ends of our nation, not to mention other seas in other nations. I’ve seen lakes, such as the Great Lakes and Salt Lake that looked like oceans. The shine has dulled for me, but this morning I’m looking with renewed sight. I’m pretending I’m looking for the first time and soaking it in. The site is still marvelous. If it has not changed, what has...or should I ask who has?

How about you, are there some things in your life you need to see the first time? Maybe some people? Maybe even God? Please don’t allow some guy with a scrubber, or your “Been there, done that” spirit, spoil the wonder. Look again. It will get better, where there are no floor scrubbers, but there’s still much to soak in here.

— Bill King is a native of Rainsville, where he and his wife graduated from Plainview High School. King is a director of missions in Opelika, a writer, musician and author. His column appears in the Times-Journal Thursdays edition. Visit for more information.

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