This vision came to me spontaneously this morning:
All my life, I have tried to build friends – and, later, relationships – out of sand, and then wondered why the sea swept them away at the end of each tide’s cycle.
Sand looks lovely, doesn’t it? Shining and glittery in the morning sun, roseate and mysterious at sun’s setting. We can play with it, sculpt it, make it take whatever shape and size we want. It is the friable material of fantasy and ephemeral love. It is, ultimately, out of our reach and control. We cannot possess it. Nor should we.
With my bucket and spade of hope and illusion, I would craft the raw sand into magical castles and mermaids and sirens and mermen. I would build Poseidon and Zeus, Sir Lancelot and King Arthur – and pretend, for a few hours, that they were real, were mine, had heart and soul and body and love.
And then the tide would come in – and wash them away, leaving the beach empty and my eyes dripping their own salty ocean.
And then, one day and one night, I saw, scales still salty falling from my vision, that the shore was full of real people, named and known, precious and loyal; not myth and legend writ large upon tiny crystals from our planet’s past, but fallible, vulnerable, tough, tearful, living and breathing and hurting and exulting humans just like me.
They came closer. I caught my breath, backed off: Would they, like their sandy counterparts, be cold to the touch and day time companions only? Would they melt in the grip of a wave?
But trembling, uncertain touch revealed blood flowing beneath heated skin, and breath warming the chilly morning air. Looking squarely into their faces showed genuine smiles and not the cold perfection of the sand mannequin.
Real emotions flittered and fluttered across these people’s faces, a spectrum of humanity, of that which connects us all. But the machines driving them were fuelled by love – no matter how flawed, a truer love than the chiselled perfection of their sandy predecessors.
This was, I realised, the Shore of Human Love – and I had been so busy deluding myself that I could force the sand of an unwilling party into the mould of my own desire and insecurity that I had failed to see the love which already existed in living, pulsating, wonderful flesh.
We cannot force others into our buckets and sand-moulds. It is not fair on them, nor is it honouring ourselves. But what we can do is to recognise those who hold out the hand of love and friendship – and rejoice that we have such miracles of humanity in our lives.