This week’s excursion took me to a county park, approximately 1 hour away from my home. The change in scenery and camaraderie of a friend known since college days proved to be welcome refreshments. What I noticed is that stopping and relaxing allowed me to observe my reactions to nature, people and animals in slow motion.
When we arrived, the beach was empty, save for a few people and a lonely sand bucket. We overheard that there was a day school arriving, and, admittedly, my first reaction was “Oh no, there goes our quiet, relaxing day!” It turned out quite differently, I am happy to say.
As the children arrived, they formed groups, and started busily working on building sand castles. After a short time, I realized that we were sitting in the midst of many creative construction sites! To observe the children working together, helping each other, laughing, running, expressing their creativity and building lifelong skills to fall back on was truly a gift. There was one little boy that was especially dedicated and industrious, in his nonstop commitment to bringing water back to the ‘construction site’. He was a joy to observe, and we realized we were watching a very special child that would go far in life.
Later, after the sand construction was completed, one of the leaders walked around and destroyed the castles with her feet. Again, an initial impulse of dismay started to emerge, until I realized how similar this was to the Buddhist practice of building sand mandalas. After creating beauty, the mandalas are destroyed, all to remind us to remain detached in life.
The children left, the beach returned to calm. The yang activities were replaced by yin butterflies kissing the sand in front of us and a community of geese floating by. Life is filled with yin and yang moments, and the peacefulness of staying in the now is something that I aim for each day. What will you find in your relaxing moments this summer? I’m certain that there are lessons awaiting each of us every day if we slow down to notice. Enjoy your summer!