A full sized garden trowel and a metallic bucket, replacing the time-honored plastic shovel and pail, met the demands of the day. Bavarian castles nestled in the pictures of history books are but doll houses compared to the designs prepared by the imagination of this nine year old boy. There was work to be done, a kingdom to build!
“Don’t build your castle too close to the water dear, or the tide may come and ruin your hard work!” warned mother. With a wave of his hand he acknowledged mother’s sincere but unsolicited advice.
Meanwhile, little sister, only twenty-two months his junior, watched her brother move out for the day’s work. He began; his facial expression as determined as a Wall Street broker. “Let’s go look for stuff in the tide pools,” suggested little sis. “Can’t, busy.” He replied without missing a beat, digging what was to be the moat of a medieval palace.
Sis walked to look for stuff by herself. The tide pools offered an array of treasures that day including mussels, aggregating anemones, limpets, chitons, California sea hares, snails, crabs, fishes, lobsters, and octopus. The young girl knew to look but not touch the creatures. She was, after all, a guest in their home. After the treasure hunt sis found a rock that sat her like royalty as she watched the waves crash on-shore. She breathed in the golden air, and swallowed the rays of sun that kissed her back and shoulders. The taste of salty breeze and the scent of sun block carries her deep into summer. The sun has been up long enough to warm her feet as he pushed them deep into the sand. As the world engulfs her tiny form she smiles and the world smiles back.
Meanwhile brother deals with setbacks. Mother hassles him every fifteen minutes or so about staying hydrated or a reapplication of lotion. What is worse is that the entire western wall collapsed beneath its own weight as the sun dried the sand, refilling the moat by almost a third. If this wasn’t fixed by noon then the whole project could be bust. Sweat pooled above his brow and needles disturbed his belly.
Sis walked by and found a shade spot under the parasol next to mom, who offered her a “Capri Sun” and her favorite book, “The Big Friendly Giant,” by Rohald Dahl. As she read her thoughts wandered into lands of make believe, she laughed at the silliness of circumstances, and she enjoyed the adventures of her friends; she just couldn’t bare to call them characters. She layed down on the towel, placing the novel over her face and breathed in deeply the smell of books. She dozed under the levity that summer provides.
Brother, upon completing the affair late that afternoon, was proud of the results. Now the tide was brushing closer to the property boarders until, at last, the sea reclaimed all of its sand.
Everything humans do will one day be undone. Everything. No exceptions. Death is inevitable, not only in living things but in doings as well. We know this is true, but we don’t believe it. We prefer to hide death and destruction from our eyes; we bury it, we burn it, we replace it with new life, but we seldom think about death and destruction as the truest promise in life.
I wonder, did the designers and builders of the Twin Towers expect to witness the destruction of their work or did they build them “to last forever”?
Yet we build things anyway, knowing full well that the sea of time will always reclaim all of her sands. And of course we must build! Projects are important. We all must do our part to help the carousel of the world go ’round. People must be fed, medicine administered, children taught, and nations must grow. There is plenty to do!
The human error, however, is to believe that doing is the greatest human act; that our cities and sciences are eternal and that is the crowning Jewell of human capacity. No.
Our greatest act is no action at all. Our highest power is being. This is our truest calling, our primitive groan. Our main job in life is to live it, be it, witness it, enjoy it, smell it, hear it , taste it, touch it, be it! We have no task in life, we have no homework to do. We are all on summer vacation so let’s doze in the levity that summer provides!
The young boy’s endeavor to build isn’t wrong, it’s futile. Doing only has true meaning when being comes first.
Brother spent the entire day doing, and in the end he had nothing. Sister spent the entire day being, and in the end she was filled with life, which, “neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal.”
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”
Treasures on earth are all the things that money can buy but will one day be destroyed, or left at the side of the grave.
Instead Jesus tells us to store treasure in heaven, (which is within you! Remember? You are the kingdom of God made in his image!). The good news is that simply being in this world, as the young girl did that day at the beach, stores up treasure in heaven, because it stores up life, beauty and experience in her soul. And this soul-heaven-treasure cannot be destroyed because it is uncomposed, it is spirit, it is her deepest and highest self. She innately knew somehow that she will never not exist, so she didn’t bother with doings that one day must not exist.
Recently I packed my bags and camped atop a Colorado mountain for two days. Before I left some people asked me, “What are you going to do up there all by yourself?” “Read, write, hike, sleep…” were my answers because I didn’t want to sound crazy saying, “Nothing! I only want to be there!”
On that camping trip I rediscovered the purpose of life. It isn’t complicated or mysterious, it’s just to be in this world and be the witness and consciousness of the world. Or even better, the purpose of life is just to be. How simple is that?
I wonder how many will be angry with this message? I can almost hear the criticism, “This guy thinks cancers research is a waste of time! He would have us all staring at each other instead!”
Let those who have ears to hear listen!