Reflections from the seashore, as true today as when I wrote it five years ago…
In our early morning walk along Sandestin’s beach this morning, I found myself most of the time on a slant. Life’s like that, no? It either pushes us a little off kilter, or we look at it from a skewed, slightly tilted, self-centered perspective.
We’re just 12 days into hurricane season this year and all has been quiet. Gentle waves. No serious storms. Still, the wave action over the past weeks has pushed and pulled the sand in such a way that occasional drop-offs and slanting wet sand at the water’s edge make for a tippy walk.
On a lovely stretch of the beach, the sand leveled out. The sound of the waves was softer here because they rolled gently, with no sudden dropoffs to crash them more violently to the shore. I wasn’t on a slant anymore and so I stopped and enjoyed the moment. The shallow flatness that stretched before me beckoned me in to the warm Gulf waters. I drank it the moment and repeated the mantra my husband and I say daily. It just doesn’t get much better than this.
As I stood gazing out on the emerald/aqua blue waters looking for dolphins, turtles and such, the waves lapped gently against my legs, splashing up to my knees. Each time the tide receded, it took a little sand away from around my feet. My feet were slowly sinking in a little hole the waves were creating. I stepped out of the hole and moved along on my walk.
The heat of summertime often calls to us to stop and enjoy the view as well we should. It’s a beautiful season that makes most of us smile just at the mention of it. As the children come in and out of the door this summer, as tables are set and cleared, as the ebb and flow of our summer lives move around our feet, it is good to pay attention when we’ve stood still long enough in one place and notice when we need to move our business along a little so that it doesn’t fall into a hole, so that the checkbook balance doesn’t slant in the wrong direction, so that we enjoy as much of life’s beach as we can. One day at a time.
As I turned around to walk back, I shifted from looking out at the sea. I put my head down to concentrate where to put my feet in the sand. The sun was rising and so was the humidity and heat. I was beginning to tire. As I looked down the beach to see how far I still had to walk, it reminded me of a timeline of one’s life or business. I passed little markers along the way: a child’s plastic shovel and sand castle mold, a lone Coke can which I picked up to deposit in the trash later, big holes dug at the water’s edge to catch the sea.
The plastic shovel reminded me of my baby days in the business when I worked hard digging up new bookings and recruits. The lone Coke can reminded me of the carelessness of some people I’ve met along the way: hosts who treated me like hired help or cancelled inconsiderately at the last moment, consultants who copped an attitude with the company when they missed a company deadline or made a mistake in judgment and, unwilling to bear the responsibility of their actions, made sarcastic statements like “Now I know what kind of a company I’m dealing with.” The big holes reminded me of those who have passed the rocky, adolescent stage of their business timeline with its ups and downs (both internal and external), and have built their businesses deep and wide.
I was surprised when I looked into the big hole I passed. There was actually water in the bottom. I think that was a first for me, for the water almost always seeps into the sand and ultimately back to the sea. As I studied this particular hole today, it had strong, deep lines along its sides. The builder of this hole had not scooped with hands, but used some sort of tool to go straight up and down the sides creating unusual depth for a beach hole.
The result was water that remained long after the work was done.
This is my hope for you: a life you’ve cultivated through the years that is as deep and productive as Jacob’s well, always drawing others to it for sustenance, friends, faith and fun.