My surroundings were idyllic. The waves crashed along the shore. The sand was soft and smooth beneath my feet. As far as I could see, the jungle spanned along the shoreline. As I walked alone in the early morning, so few people were on the beach that it seemed as if I was gifted with an oasis all to myself. On the surface, everything appeared to be nearly perfect. In my mind, however, I struggled to distance myself from recent challenges back at home. Though I tried to focus on what was happening in that moment, nagging thoughts repeatedly stole my attention away from the beauty that now surrounded me.
Not too long before I found myself on this pristine beach, I had been stuck in Chicago in the middle of a snowstorm. I was flooded with worries about potential flight delays, trying to finalize plans for my time off of work AND finding a way to get my kitty to his catsitter. While rationally I knew that there was nothing I could do about the weather, I found myself struggling with anxiety and stress about being able to arrive at my sandy destination. I felt the need to try to control everything around me. I was inclined to fight nature, the airlines, and a handful of other things that were outside of my control. Somewhere along the line, I almost gave up completely and cancelled my trip. I was frustrated with the circumstances, and instead of letting life happen, I was compelled to fight.
Eventually, a successful pair of flights were able to put some physical (and mental) distance between me and the circumstances that had me so flustered and tense. I began to relax and notice the power of the new environment around me and continued to understand more about my own very human reactions in regards to traveling when the weather was not cooperating and my interrupted schedule. I noticed patterns in my behavior could possibly benefit from certain aspects reflected in nature. What I found was that instead of fighting, I could…
Flow like the Waves
Sometimes waves are powerful and will sweep you off of your feet. At other times, they gently lap the shoreline. While each wave may be unique, they never stop. There is no pause. The waves move like life. Each moment comes and goes. Some moments are powerful and knock us down. Others barely register as they flow through time without ceasing. Instead of fighting the waves, what would happen if we surrendered to them? What if we ride with the tides instead of running head on into the waves?
Shine like the Sun
The movement of the sun is a bit more predictable than ocean waves. Each day the sun rises, and each day it sets. It is strong and merciless. It produces the heat that allows us all to live. The sun fuels the growth of plants. It is its own source of light, and with that energy, it gives and takes life. Like the sun, we are energy. With each action, we possess the ability to create and destroy. We have moments of brilliance. We can illuminate and eventually burn out. What we do with our light matters. What will we do? How can we brighten someone else’s path?
Evolve like the Moon
The moon is not its own source of light, but is powerful all the same. Its gravitational pull controls the tides. It pulls each being on this planet. The moon is gentle; a guiding force. It moves through cycles, ceaselessly ebbing then growing. We too move through life cyclically. There are times that we shine more brightly and others where we nearly disappear within ourselves. Do we give ourselves permission do this? Without fighting or fear, can we allow ourselves to be guided gently into new patterns?
Transform like the Sand
Sand is shaped by external forces. It is eroded by water. Moved by wind. Scorched by sun. Each moment refines the sand and changes it- transforming it over time. Like the sand, we cannot always control our circumstances or what shapes us. External forces like family, work and weather alter our plans and the course of our paths. Sometimes life has plans for us that we cannot avoid or change. While we may not possess the power to change the circumstances, we do have to ability to select how we handle them. Can we surrender to forces beyond our control? Do we allow change to happen or do we fight?
Time among waves and sand and below sun and moon was very simple, and gave me space to breathe and be. There, I found a little freedom to reflect and wonder. At home, I challenge myself to find that same freedom. To reflect. To wonder. I continue to be tested and occasionally falter, but when I need a little encouragement to flow, shine, evolve and transform, I need only to gaze up high, or perhaps down low to remember the valuable lessons that nature has to share.
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