15 August 2009

Looking Closer

I noticed some interesting things on my most recent vacation to Marco Island. I observed some things about life and nature (and the link between the two…) that have inspired me to write a couple new posts on my unfortunately neglected blog.
I spent most of my time in Marco at the beach, fishing, taking afternoon naps falling asleep to the sound of the waves, and I also was able to feel like a kid again while enthusiastically searching for shells on the beach and in the water.
The Gulf Coast of Florida is known for having some of the most beautiful shells in the world. Violent late night storms coming in from the gulf bring vibrant lightening displays and earth-shaking thunder, but the storms also bring some beautiful things to the beach as well. The next morning you can walk the sand and find dozens of interesting and beautifully unique shells to stuff your pockets with. Many may even be too big to fit in your swim trunks! Needless to say, it’s pretty easy to spot some really stunning specimens early in the mornings on the white shorelines of Marco Island. But if you’re not an early bird and wake up just as the sun is reaching its zenith in the blue cloudless sky you probably won’t find very many nice shells at all. The early-risers have most likely already scooped up all the big easy-to-spot conchs, cones, whelks, and tulips and the rest have been swept, by an outgoing tide, back into the sea.
This is where I observed something special, something extraordinary. If you stroll up and down the beach with your back arched and your head down you’ll probably come to the conclusion that there’s nothing to be found. “All the pretty shells are gone.” You couldn’t be any farther from the truth. The fact is that searching for beautiful shells is a lot like searching for beauty in life. You are not going to see any shells from five or six feet above the ground while walking rather swiftly back to you condo because you’re starting to chafe. If you really want to find beauty you must slow down and even stop every once in a while, to get real close to the piles of what may only seem like broken shells. To find the most beautiful shells, no matter what time of day, you need to squat down or just plop your butt down in the sand and that’s when you’ll really find what you are looking for. You must take a moment, or two, to just sit and enjoy the adventure of looking for shells. I know, this is crazy – you don’t have any time to stop and just look real closely at the mountains of shells piled down the shoreline. I mean come on, you’re on vacation and time is running out, no time to stop and smell the roses! But it’s not about smelling the roses; it’s about noticing that the roses are even there! Only when you slow down and pay attention to all the beauty that is around you will you find life’s treasures.

Once you find the joy and peacefulness in just the search you will realize that it does not matter whether or not you find the shells. You realize that you don’t find fulfillment within the discovery of a shell; you find fulfillment within DISCOVERY, within ADVENTURE, and the qualities in life that are not material. These qualities are feelings of excitement and happiness. In life, to realize the beauty that is within all things, you must go slow, be patient, and pay no attention to time or your hurry to do something else. Find joy in what you are doing… and to your surprise – you will find that the moment you begin to see life (searching for shells) in that way – all of the sudden you will start discovering beautiful shells all around you.

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