My husband and I took a day from work and drove to the beach for a long weekend. It wasn’t great weather, the sun stayed behind the clouds and rain, but it was warm and there were no worries associated with work or maintenance or any of the things that have been plaguing us the last year. In other words, it was really nice, even if it wasn’t the one or two week vacation that most people seem to take. No, I’m not jealous, at least not a lot.
The one day we were able to sit on the beach and enjoy an afternoon gave me such an insight on how similar we all really are. There was a family from almost every ethnicity I could think of. The only two missing were Arabic and American Indian (as far as I could see). Each family had a mother, father, children and some also had grandparents.
In each instance, this is how the families arrived and settled in the beach. The father is lugging chairs or anything heavy, note that not all families had anything heavy, so some fathers only carried a child. The mothers carried the bag of necessities; towels, snacks, kleenex, wipes, drinks, etc. The older children carried their own load, so as not to overload mom and the younger children each had a towel and their own shoes. They were the fun ones to watch.
The parents would decide on a suitable spot to drop their belongings and start getting organized. The older kids would look around for anyone who might be cool to hand out with (noting that they were the only cool kids on the beach). The grandparents would kindly wait for the parents to get everything organized and find a place to sit. The youngsters, however, would completely ignore the activity of the older family members. They would wait for the towels to be laid out neatly, then they would immediately strip off their shoes and any other nonessential clothing and start running full speed ahead for the water with squeals of glee shrieking from their mouths and grinning from ear to ear.
These kids were no older than 8 or 9 years old, and most of them were closer to 5. They were the ones who got the most obvious pleasure from being in the sand and touching the waves of water as they rolled in. One of the parents would hastily follow, knowing that if they didn’t, their child might be adventurous enough to just dive right in. That never happened. The children each stood at the tip of the waves and waited anxiously for their parents to catch up. One child was so anxious (or her parent was so hesitant) that she ran back to him and tried to urge him to hurry with her winsome smile and gentle pushes. Dad was not so enthused, especially when he felt the cold water on his toes.
The kids all had one thing in common; sheer joy. It was infectious. They were finally able to run and yell to their heart’s content. They could get their fingers deep into the sand and not worry about having to immediately wash up. They could decide what they wanted to do instead of having the decisions made for them. They all started elaborate projects of construction that failed to accomplish completion, but there was no hurry for it, because the sand was in abundance and the water was calling for them to come and splash.
Finally, the inevitable happened. The children noticed each other. One child had a bigger hole to play in than the other (due to some other child’s constructive dream no doubt). There was no invasion, no pushing or shoving for the child to relinquish his play space. Nope. They simply greeted each other and began to work/play together. No money exchanged hands for the rent. No arms deals were made and no loss of life. It was a joint union intended for the good of them both, (fun).
We could/should use that example in our lives daily. Our eyes have been overcast with the clouds of deceit for too long. My neighbor is only trying to to what is best for his family. If I can help, why wouldn’t I? This philosophy applies to communities, cities, counties, states, countries, continents and beyond. We are all here for a common vision, but we have allowed ourselves to believe that our visions are very different. We may have different backgrounds, different colors, different religions and different methods, but we are all trying to accomplish the same basic things.
So why are we letting our minds be contaminated with thoughts of evil? It’s true. Why do we think that it’s so wrong to allow the person next to us go before us? Why do we insist on being heard and trying to shut the opposition up? There is nothing in it for us, even though we have convinced ourselves otherwise. The only thing we will get out of this behavior is frustration and increasing fear.
Go back to those childhood days at the beach and remember the joy. This can be applied to every day life if you choose it. Work with your neighbor and watch what happens. Don’t insist on winning the argument. Choose to smile at someone instead of looking past them at nothing. Appreciate what you see in others. It will be like a light bulb turning on for the first time.