What do you do in the morning? Not the steps of a morning ritual, or the next step in a schedule. What do you do in the morning that brings you joy? I get up at 4 am, and I'm in the gym at 4:30, but before that is my time with Maggie the Wondermutt. I roll out of bed, she leaps, and se sit there on the floor of my bedroom playing around and snuggling for a moment. For those first minutes of the day, there is nothing else going on that is important to me. Just me and a loyal friend who has been with me well over 10 years. Everyday starts very much the same way for me. It's my moment in the morning. For Carissa Elrick it's the sunrise on the beach.
Sitting across from Carissa it's easy to be reminded of the sunrise. She is radiant, gently, not noonday blinding, but the the softer brightness of morning oranges and purples. Carissa is an instantly welcoming presence and she is present, though she will tell you she is working on it. She smiles with her eyes. It's an incredible sight but, like so many of our best traits, it's something she can't see for herself. Carissa sits poised, leaning slightly forward, fully engaged, taking it all in. She loves a good story, i have a few, she has some too.
At 23 she is starting on her latest journey as well and you can feel her excitement for it. Interestingly enough, she works in the same field I just left to follow my path and my dream. She loves it. Truly, she loves what she does. It's incredible. So often we see people leave a career, or have a preconceived notion about it, and adjust our feelings accordingly, but she has no problem telling me how much she truly loves helping people plan for their future. Just like so many of us, she just isn't sure what that is for her, and she's not worrying about it. Carissa is experiencing the world, it's lessons, it's beauty, it's less beautiful moments and building up wisdom.
Carissa came to Charleston from Vermont, through St Louis. A lifelong dream has been to live in New York, but it didn't happen this time, she came here. This would disappoint a lot of people, and it did the same to her. We are all human. She spent time here thinking about New York while standing in Charleston. This went on for a bit, but then she heard and read great advice, the same day. There are no accidents, and the advice was simple, be where your feet are.
The smiling her eyes do is largely because they are looking at the world, and seeing amazing things in it, so this didn't pass her by. Since that day she has been practicing being here, learning to be present. She spends mornings watching the sun rise at the beach, and the evening brings the same for the setting sun. I have heard a million conceivable reasons to be happy here and this is as good a reason as any of the others. She is present where her feet are, on that beach, and she is happy there.
Carissa has a calm happiness, like the breeze of the ocean. It's fitting that she finds her happiness so close to it.
All of us are building our lives, the only question is whether we are engaged in the process or not. For whatever time we have, we find our beaches, our sunsets, our coffee chats and the stories that bring us joy and lighten our hearts. If we take the time we might even find our purpose and live by it. In any case we walk out path. Sitting with Carissa is a reminder that we all build a life wherever the winds take us. There is so much ahead of her, so much ahead of all of us, because life is a great adventure and none of us living have yet reached the end.
We talk of life, of the constant meetings and partings you cannot foresee or control, of the beauty in not knowing your day or your time and in the joy of sunrises and sunsets. We talk of the mysteries of my adopted home, her new one, of Sunday brunch and breakfast burritos. Smiles and laughs fill the air, we never weep.
Carissa and I take a couple of hours between the sunrise and sunset to meet, to share and to be excited about the next time. All before the sun crests noon. Long before the sunset comes. We spent some time building our lives and finding room for each other in them.
Favorite DInosaurL Velociraptor (Specifically Blue from Jurassic World)
Why: Carissa watches a child down here who loves Blue and she loves that child, hence this is her favorite.