Thursday, 12 September 2013

Castles in the Sand

Standing on the beach, it’s hard not to feel a deep sense of connection with the moist sand under feet and the gentle sound of the waves lapping the shore. The beach stimulates a mixture of childhood memories of building sandcastles, splashing in the shallows and exploring rock pools for signs of life. Those memories contain something special as they come from a time where the imagination made it possible to bring the castle to life; as a child, the imagination was enough to have fun with even the simplest things. A cardboard box could be a plethora of things from a camp to a shop counter, and a building in the sand could be a fortress or a fairy tale castle; an intricate and complex construction taking hours to take shape.

Of course, the thing about castles in the sand is that once they are built, the sea quickly reclaims them leaving the space where it once stood in childhood majesty and perfection a blank canvas once again. Yet, as a child, this was no deterrent, for one simply built a new castle and then another one. It seemed so much easier to live in the moment back then. 

As an adult, standing on the beach doesn’t conjure quite the same magic in quite the same way. It can be hard to become blissfully absorbed in the moment without thinking about ‘reality’: life, work, love, bills, money and life (and not necessarily in that order). Yet, when we pause for a moment, we become one with the sunlight dancing across the shimmering sea and the whoosh of the waves as they ebb and flow. In that moment, everything stands still and we can take a big, deep breath that feels life-affirming and life-enhancing. 

Nothing changes, but everything does at the same time. When we look around, we can see our footsteps etched across the sand marking the journey that brought us to this moment. When we look beneath our feet, an imprint remains. Then the tide turns and it is all washed away. Should we look back with regret that the past has been washed away or should we feel the joy that the tide and the sand have given us the gift of being completely in the present moment? 

With a blank canvas, we are presented with a choice as to where the next step goes; when we consciously connect to the present, suddenly we can find ourselves captured in a moment of magic and amazement as we expand and connect with the infinite possibilities both around us and within us.
 
This can feel overwhelming, and many will struggle not to be bothered about finding the path ‘back home’ as the mind kicks in, trying to over-ride the magic of the moment. Yet, when we take a deep breath we can feel ourselves expanding with the Universe as we gain an inner knowing or sense that ‘all is well’; it is as though our breaths become synchronised and unified as we dance with the sunlight on the waves and allow our consciousness to ebb and flow like the changing tides. It is only when we unify that we let go of the consistent and persistent flow of worries and angst that knock at the doors of our lives. Of course, although such moments cannot change our reality, they do at the same time because we no longer find ourselves consumed and driven by fear and the heaviness of life. 

The beach makes for a powerful analogy and there is a risk that we can become lost building castles in the sand and dancing with the waves, and yet, what is the risk here? A risk that we might become so balanced, euphoric and awake that everything changes for the better or a fear that reality will seem even harder to juggle when we return? Sometimes we have to step into the unknown in order to grow and evolve, and, somewhat ironically, we often resist doing the very things that intuitively we know we need to do, because ‘reality’ makes us act differently. Reality doesn’t make us act in any particular way, we do that ourselves.

We have a lot to learn from the liberated imagination of childhood, and it seems important now to expand into this moment in order to embrace life fully and consciously; it is time to take a big deep breath of now...