Some days, like today, I long to be someplace else—more pronounced, I suppose, by being winter weary and because though spring is on its way, it is not yet here. So I remind myself of another place, last year, in the spring. I was on the sand, by the ocean, watching people. Here is what I wrote upon my return.*
Look for the stories, I told myself on this vacation meant to heal my winter-weary soul. Almost every day I pushed my toes into sun-warmed sand along the Pacific Ocean shoreline and watched people as they pursued their own agendas. An older couple fishing on a pier; a young man reading for hours on a beach; a silhouetted figure sailing toward the harbor at sunset—they all had a story, the one in my imagination.
Then one day I turned to the ocean to watch the waves roll in—wave upon wave upon wave—and thought about what each wave leaves behind on the sand. Ocean waves can erode the shoreline and deposit man-made pollution. But they can also leave behind intriguing pools of water; miraculous, tiny sea creatures buried in a billion grains of sand; and the seashells and starfish that so delight seekers walking along the shore.
Wave upon wave upon wave—each leaves something behind, like the events and experiences of life. Bad times are akin to the towering waves on a stormy sea; when they roll in they can deposit sorrow, doubt. Good times are like the gentle waves that cover our bare feet with cool, foamy water; when they roll in they can deposit joy, hope.
I thought again about the people I had been watching. The couple fishing . . . looked weary. The young man reading . . . seemed content. The person sailing . . . was focused. Would I find their most compelling stories not in the waves but in what the waves left behind in the sand?
*This post first appeared on this blog in May 2014.