On a walk today, I saw rocks in sand.
I wanted to find something valuable, I thought. Something rare and beautiful. What kid doesn't want to find buried treasure or a message in a bottle? But, disgruntled, I looked around at ordinary sand, unpleasant sea anemones exposed in the low tide, bits and pieces of trash washed up by the tide.
No sea shells, no drift wood, nothing beautiful.
I thought of driving on LA freeways, standing in line at the DMV, shuffling in crowds on pavement, and other forms of unsatisfying ordinariness. It had been a fine day with nothing that had happened to cause me problems. I had no complaints, but on the other hand, I had nothing to show for the day. I wanted to be able to say there was a high point, a brilliant thing to think of later, but I could find nothing either in memory or at hand there at the shore. What was I to make of this?
Seems a trifle overprivileged to come so close to whining when I live in a spectacular region, but there I was, feeling exasperated at worst, bored at best.
There were the rocks, the sand, and there were the surging waves, rolling in and over the rocks all day long. No glamour, no bling, no glitz and not much to look at. Sturdy, brown, they were standing up to cold, wet pounding waves for how long? I wondered. Did I care?
Durability and endurance are traits often overlooked when others seem so much more exciting. Sprinters get all the press in sports. Dancers with fancy moves outshine the leading man who shows off his partner quietly. Businessmen who earn billions are superstars, but their ordinary unseen staff people show up day after day and keep the lights on and the machines running. They never get credit for being steady and normal.
I took a more mindful look at what was around me. Definitely not a tawny beach in Hawaii, this place. Seaweed lay limp on those rocks at low tide and tidal zone creatures awaited the return of salt water. I had to consciously develop an appreciation for the qualities of the rocks and sand, but there they were: Sturdy dependability, strength, durability and actually some tiny bits of color when I got up close.
The rocks and sand still weren't beautiful, no matter how I squinted my eyes. But, there they were, part of the whole of things. Who am I to say what has value and greater purpose? I left the shore and went home to my dry house where my familiar objects are set about. I think they looked better to me than before, a bit anyway, in contrast. Maybe rocks play a supporting role to more glamorous things in life because without them, beauty would be less visible.
Causes Christine Bottaro Supports
The Nature Conservancy, California State Parks, The United Way