Geetanjali Mukherjee

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Twigs on the Beach

I was out walking along the promenade by the beach near my place, and stopped by the railing to look at the sea swirling just below me. The sea looked really calm and beautiful, and as I saw the pile of twigs, wood chips and other debris on the strip of beach below the promenade, I had a thought. I usually dismiss the beach as ugly because of the pile of debris, thinking that I could appreciate it if only it were pristine and clean. Suddenly yesterday, the debris seemed like a minor issue, one that receded behind the beauty of the scene; a serene and calm sea, light blue sky, and the cool breeze blowing. I stopped to catch my breath and felt grateful that I was able to experience the moment.

And then it struck me. How the twigs represented the problems in my life. For the past few years, moving to a new city, struggling to construct a career and life, I haven’t always been happy. I’ve seen the problems as so big and important that they mar the scene of the beach, the scene of my life. Yesterday standing there I realized, what if the twigs weren’t the focus? What if I could enjoy the scene and be grateful, and the twigs just receded into the background, there but not really that important? I realised that my problems were mostly things I worried about for the future, or issues related to my ego – was I successful enough, or making enough money, or achieving as much as I possibly could in every area of my life. They weren’t real. Not real like problems I have faced in the past, potentially not having a roof over one’s head, worried about income, safety. Real problems that people face everyday. I am so lucky that I don’t need to worry about that anymore. So why then am I still unable to feel safe, secure; why am I still struggling, in my head?
As I realised that I could choose, that even though I do need to take action and work hard, I don’t need to let the twigs mar my enjoyment of the sea, I relaxed. And I felt a huge weight lifted off. I know that I may not remember this every day, that some days trying to get everything done, and work on my long-term goals may feel overwhelming. But I hope I remember the feeling, of knowing that I can choose to let these issues recede to the background, even if for a moment, and regain that feeling of complete stillness and beauty. For that I am truly grateful.
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