On a recent Sunday, I went for a walk on the beach with my family. We were happy to discover that a local artist–who is famous for his sand castles–had left yet another beautiful creation by the pier. He outdid himself with this one–towers decorated with hearts rose from a colorful mountaintop base. Careful details fired the imagination, making me think of the realm of possibilities in life, and the magic of believing in a dream.
Unfortunately, by the time we arrived, the incoming tide was starting to fill the moat. With each new wave, the water crept closer to the castle. Several children had taken on the noble task of saving the castle from the onslaught. They worked tirelessly to build walls of sand around the moat, in a futile effort to block the waves. They were trying to stop the force of the sea–which was pretty close to being impossible. A few adults shared wisdom with them, advising them to shore up the base of the castle itself, to strengthen it so that it would survive the tide–in part, if not intact.
I watched the scene play out for at least an hour, while thoughts drifted through my mind. How that castle resembled my own aspirations–beautiful, colorful, a joy to behold. And how very much the sea resembled the harder circumstances in life–powerful, destructive, and often unstoppable.
And I knew that, sometimes, I resemble a person who is standing on a beach with a bucket, a shovel, and a vision.
When ideas, opportunity, and resources all come together at the same time, it’s tempting to fire into a venture with the first rush of excitement. Taking the tools at hand, we begin building our dreams into reality. Enthusiasm is indeed necessary for success; but we need to make sure we take a look at the whole picture before we begin. We need to look at the long-term–what might come down the road? What will happen when the tide shifts in our field? Will we be able to move with the tide, or will we be overwhelmed? What can we do to prevent against the destruction of all that we have worked for?
In the case of a castle sculpture, that might mean creating it on a movable surface and blending a fixative in with the sand so that it will dry securely and hold together. Instead of having a fleeting existence, a castle like that could be displayed for many years.
So what’s the equivalent with our castle of dreams? What base will make it adaptable to change? What can we put into it at the start to insure its strength in the future?
When we answer as many of those questions as we can at the beginning, we prepare wisely, building a solid foundation for our dream that will be able to withstand the test of time and struggle. And in doing so, we create something that can remain beautiful for generations to come.
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© 2008 Christine Taylor