When I was in college, I read Gift from the Sea. I was too young to understand it, and I realize that I should take another look now that I am an adult and also a wife. In the book, the author comments on different items found along the seashore. She finds the item, describes it, and then considers lessons that can be learned from the item.
For the past few days, Blaine and I have been in Santa Monica. We travelled here with our two younger brothers, having rented a little studio apartment on the beach. We can look out the window and see the ocean.
This morning I went hunting for sea glass. There is something graceful and lovely about a piece of glass, a piece of garbage, really, that has turned into a treasure because of the tide.
Blaine was looking for bleached white shells and rocks when I joined in his search. Right near his feet I found the most fantastic piece of blue glass. It is my favorite shade. I felt like it was fate, to find such a piece of glass right near him.
A few moments later, I found another larger piece. It was the same shade of blue but twice the size. I was feeling quite pleased with myself, a handful of glass, next to my sweetheart. I was a bit proud.
Then a wave came. I was not facing the ocean, but facing the shore, and I never even saw it coming. I lost my balance and dropped my handful of glass. The glass was quickly swept away.
After a moment of pure happiness, I was literally knocked over. Quite quickly, all my efforts were in vain.
There are a myriad of lessons to be learned from this moment, most of them about being happy with what is given to me. There is also something to the idea of not mourning that which is lost. And things are just things. And that there will always be waves, and some of them will catch me off guard, or knock me down flat.
But there are other lessons of joy. And peace. And happiness. I'll leave you to consider those.
Finally, a few quotes from the text, just so you can have a feel for how great the book is:
“One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach. One can only collect a few. One moon shell is more impressive than three. There is only one moon in the sky.”
“Perhaps this is the most important thing for me to take back from beach-living: simply the memory that each cycle of the tide is valid; each cycle of the wave is valid; each cycle of a relationship is valid.”