My wife, Debra, and I recently blocked off a few days to get away to the beach. We both love it and its rare we travel anywhere that doesnt involve one of us working. Debra and I were reclining in chairs on the beach when Debra looked over. I would be completely happy to be living right here at the beach! What about you? she asked. My mind began to immediately wander. Let me give it some thought, I replied as I began to survey our surroundings.
As an artist, color and texture always speak to me. I gazed at the ocean only a few feet away and was marveled by the way the sun beamed down on the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico. I wondered how many shades of paint in various blues and greens it would take to even attempt to capture its beauty.
I decided that it certainly would take many dips of a paintbrush into the various colors to re-create each nuance the ocean offered. And, this is not even mentioning the way the light danced across its surface causing it to glitter with every ripple. It was so calm and soothing that I lost all sense of time as I stared into its magic. I was mesmerized by the waves gracefully coming into shore then returning back to sea without even a moments hesitation.
Like a gigantic bag of sugar had tipped over and generously spilled out in front of me, the white sand made the perfect border for the turquoise sea. It was clear that, by being there, it persuaded the ocean to appear even more brilliant. With each incoming wave, the ocean smoothed out the white sand.
Every visitor left a footprint in the fluffy white sand, causing little hills and valleys to appear. Even the seagulls left their marks as they scurried and frolicked across the sand. As I watched them, I thought to myself, The seagulls do live here and they love it! I looked over to tell Debra about the gulls but she had drifted off into a peaceful nap.
There is something about the sea mist and gentle breezes that can carry your troubles to a far away place, leaving you rejuvenated. I know my concerns were definitely diminished as I watched the palm trees sway back and forth.
Time just moves at a slower pace. I realized I had sat there for a while because I noticed the shadows cast from the colorful beach umbrellas had shifted across the sand as the warm, golden sun slowly moved against the blue sky. Debra was right. I could live there.
In reality though, things cant always be so peaceful. Life has a way of getting involved. Some days are filled with a tangle of emotions taking us from pure joy to unexpected disappointment. Our day-to-day activities bring with them all kinds of deadlines, obstacles and conflicts.
We allow ourselves to get caught up in a powerful swirl that can sometimes leave us feeling discouraged and defeated. Its just our human nature. Life isnt perfect and you dont have to live very long to realize it.
The other night, a group of friends and I went out to dinner. During the course of the evening, we laughed, joked and had a great time. We also listened and commiserated with each other as people in the group discussed personal obstacles they were facing. Everyone is suffering in one way or another. Some people choose to show their pain while others opt to hide it.
If Ive learned one thing in my life, its that no matter how badly I think things are going, how sick I think I am or how wrongly I think Ive been treated, there is always someone who is suffering more. All you have to do is take a look around you.
When you hear a story or see a situation that makes your complaints seem trivial, you immediately realize how fortunate you really are and things in your life come into crystal clear focus. This kind of experience can be extremely humbling and leave you counting your blessings.
Just like my memories of the beach, we have to relish the fantastic, precious moments in life. We have to soak them up inside of us. We have to store them in our memory banks and tightly hold on to them for rainy days.
We have to realize every day wont be perfect but some will come really close. We have to remember that storms dont last forever. But when were going through them, we can find solace in the fact were not alone.
Yes, the beach is a magical place to find perspective and I could definitely live there. But, just as in life, the beach is not always a perfect utopia. Sometimes storms blow in at a moments notice churning up the waters and darkening the skies.
No person, place or thing is perfect. But, I must say, when the beach is at its best, it comes pretty close.
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