Today at the beach I was struck by a truth: The ocean is not meant to be perfectly calm. It is meant to have waves. That sounds a lot like my life.
I spent some time this afternoon just watching the waves at Seabright Beach in Santa Cruz, CA. Ok, I also spent more time watching a pair of 4 year olds and making sure they didn’t terrorize the seagulls or get washed out to sea. But still. I got to watch the waves today. My husband has a conference here, so the boys and I followed him down for a little change of scenery. Exploring new places is, after all, one of my happy things.
Although, Santa Cruz is in no way new to me. I’ve been coming here my whole life. But this is the first time I’ve brought the twins. (Well, we did come when they were in utero, but they can see it this time!)
There is something magical about watching the waves wash over the sand. Over and over and over. Rhythmically playing their ongoing song.
As I was watching them today, I remembered a time I brought my two older children to this stretch of beach. My son was pretty young, maybe 4 or 5. Actually about the same age as the twins are now.
When we got to the beach and spread out our things, my daughter (fearless as always) raced into the waves. My son, who was always a watch-and-see sort of a kid, just stood next to me and watched.
After a minute or two, I asked what he was watching.
“The waves,” he said. “I’m waiting for them to stop.”
Trying to be a good mom and not laugh, I said, “You know, they don’t stop.”
He looked at me concerned, “Never?”
I shook my head.
He stared back at the waves, “What about at night?”
“Nope, not even at night. The waves always come.”
He stared out at the waves for another minute. Then, as if he’d made up his mind, he shrugged his shoulders and ran out into the waves.
We joke about that story every time we go to the beach, but today it struck a different note in me.
Life is full of waves. Waves that crash on the shore over and over and over.
Sometimes I mistakenly believe that my life is supposed to be calm. And that when something happens, I think that something has gone terribly wrong. I stress and despair over the fact that I have waves in my life instead of calm seas.
But what if that’s just the opposite of the truth?
Let’s face it, we live on planet Earth. And by that fact, we are subject to illness, accident, conflict, pain, etc. But, all of these waves we face, teach us, stretch us, strengthen us, and have the potential to make us better humans.
What if we’re meant to have waves?
What if, rather than standing on the shore, paralyzed by fear, waiting for the waves to stop (something that will never happen)… what if we simply shrug our shoulders and jump into the waves?
Accepting that the waves are actually the rule, rather than the exception, feels so much more liberating to me. Do you feel that?
Now, here’s my reality check. There are times when we’re faced with a 30-foot wave. And running headlong into that by ourselves is not a great idea if we don’t have to. Sometimes we have no choice when giant sneaker waves hit. That’s when you grab your life vest and radio for help. Remember there are other humans on this beach who can be there for you. I will never forget the image of those people in Florida who made a human chain to save the family caught in a rip current.
I’ve definitely had a few Maverick-sized waves in my life. But mostly I’m faced with the daily wash (or crash) of every day living on planet Earth.
There are meant to be waves.
I’m going to shrug my shoulders more and just go live my life in the middle of them.
Want to join me?