What is a Beachcomber?

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Who knew that the answer to such a simple question could be quite funny? If you think you know the meaning of the word (I did!), try looking it up. You might be surprised.

What is a beachcomber?

Okay, so exactly what is a beachcomber? The full definition given by Merriam-Webster is (this is a direct quote):

“a white man living as a drifter or loafer especially on the islands of the South Pacific”

I laughed – so all beachcombers have to be Caucasian, male, and a loser. Really?

The next definition is:

“a person who searches along a shore as for salable refuse or for seashells”

That’s a little better, but we’re still talking about somebody who survives by looking for garbage to sell.

What is a beachcomber?

From those definitions, there’s almost a connotation of being worthless or some sort of ne’er-do-well. There must be a very interesting story about the origin of the word. I’ll have to look into that!

Anyway, never mind what the word meant originally or why. I don’t know about you, but that’s not at all what I had in mind. My personal mental image is people of all different ages and sizes and shapes and colors. They may be walking slowly, quiet and introspective, or they may be skipping along gleefully with as much energy as those crazy-fast little sand crabs.

I must admit it’s true that beachcombers may pick up garbage, but you know that saying one man’s trash is another’s treasure. Who knows what they might do with that thing you see as junk? Talented people can turn the oddest finds into lovely art. Smart people can find strange things to sell to talented people who know how to transform them into a showpiece you’d be proud to own.

What is a Happy Beachcomber?

In my book, it’s anyone from anywhere who loves being on the beach. As for combing, that might involve strolling, walking briskly, jogging, riding a bike, moving along the sandy shore by any other means, or standing, sitting or lying down.

Whether moving or dormant, it involves observing what’s around. That might mean intentionally searching or casually noticing. For me, it might mean lounging on my favorite Florida beach and simply being present in the moment and aware of the surroundings.

Be Happy

Further, a happy beachcomber may or may not be collecting anything. Sometimes a shiny object in the sand may turn out to be a treasure too intriguing to resist, and it quickly gets scooped up for adding to the collection at home.

Other times all the pleasure is simply in seeing it, in noticing the shape or the color or the way tiny water droplets glisten on a shell or piece of sea glass, or the way gleaming sunbeams reflect off a piece of bleached driftwood.

A happy beachcomber is just delighted to be on the seashore taking it all in. Being active is every bit as fun as being completely sedentary because it isn’t about the doing. At the beach, it’s all about being.

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What is a beachcomber?

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