The sand is warm on your feet as you doddle, unsteadily, to the water. You have your favorite red pail and yellow shovel in hand. Your belly is full from the PB&J you ate on the ride over. Mom is sitting nearby, relaxed but alert, calm but watching.
This is a good spot, you think to yourself as you plop down. Ah yes, this will do just fine.
You’re going to make a sandcastle.
You and the sea
The sun makes its way across the sky, yet you are oblivious to this fact. You’re doing something you love. Time has no meaning. In fact, you’d spend all day being there so long as Mom is fine with it (which she is). And so there you remain.
You have a tunnel that connects one side to the other, a tower almost as big as you, and a moat to keep out intruders (like your brother). A better castle? Impossible. This is a work of engineering genius.
… and then the tide comes in.
Woah, woah, woah! The ocean inches closer and closer to your kingdom by the second.
But you’re not going down without a fight! You deepen the moat, add an irrigation canal to divert the flood, you even reinforce the outer castle wall. But it’s no use. The ocean has won. Your castle is… no more.
The love of the build
You don’t let it get you down though. You knew the stakes and played the game for the sake of the game itself. Not for the trophy or congratulations of others. You did what you set out to do. And now, you do what you’ve done all those times before…
“Mom?” You call out.
“Yes?” She replies.
“Can we come back soon though?” You ask.
“Of course,” she says.
The call to the sand
Fulfillment in your life is just like that sandcastle. Here you are, knowing full well that there is no obvious point or reason for building it, yet you work towards it nonetheless because you must. Because there is some thing inside you that calls out to the sand.
A wave (ie. life) may come and knock down what you’ve built, but that’s ok: you built it for the love of the thing itself. Not for the prize at the end of the sand-tunnel.
But for the sake of the build. For that calling inside you, whatever that may be.
Impermanence and the promise of tomorrow
Knowing that a wave may come along when you least expect it, you can appreciate the thing you have in front of you even more.
And, inevitably, when a wave does come along, you can call out to your Mom and get right back to building again tomorrow – for nothing more than the sake of building.
Fulfillment is impermanent, like everything else. What is reassuring though is that with each castle you build, you get that much better at it, that much quicker at building it, that much more creative in your design.
And that brings new, wonderful challenges all of its own. It’s a good thing.
I’ll see you at the beach.
PS: Next time your sandcastle caves in, here’s a bucket and a pail.