Friday, April 16, 2010

A Hole in the Sand

He was the universal boy, his mirror image easily found at play under the bright blue diadem of sky that stretches over every beach on the planet.  Armed with more than his share of mischief, wheat-coloured hair all tousled, he spent the whole of the afternoon digging holes in the sand, as focused as a mole.  I had watched him from over my knitting, smiling occasionally at his inexhaustible focus upon the task at hand.

Later that evening, as I was running with Edward along the very same plot of warm sand, my ankle found one of those newly dug holes, and I spun through the air like a top.  My friends, it was a spectacular fall, with a landing worthy of a photograph album. Fortunately for my ego, The Songwriter wasn’t quick enough on the camera to formally document my moment of grace so you’ll just have to trust me on the vividness of its theatricality.  

Now I know it’s a cliche, but true nonetheless -  whenever one falls it always feels like slow motion.   It seems to take forever, all those strolling seconds, each one spent in fearful anticipation of the unavoidable landing to come.  But this time was different; this time I was laughing.  You see, Edward is a joy to watch at the seaside - he runs with such happy abandon, knowing not what this strange, windy place called The Beach is really all about, knowing only that he loves it with a passion.  He tosses his head, he jumps in the air, he gambols like a lamb on a hilltop.  It is impossible to canter alongside him with a serious face.  So yes, I was laughing outloud as I fell.  No fear whatsoever.  Just laughs.  Laughing when I fell, laughing during my fall, and all through my inelegant sprawl in the sand.  And it was though I had landed on feathers.  No pain, no soreness - not then, not later.

Afterwards I thought that surely this must be the secret to a happy maneuver through our time here on earth.  If only we could manage to banish fear from our lives, just think what a world we could have.  When one digs through the hard clay of racism or opens the trap door of hate, there lying at the bottom, half hidden, lurks the malignant knot of fear, sending out dark ribbons of anger to bind up our souls and paralyze our minds.  Fear of change, of failure, or of the unknown, fear of illness, of loss, or of death -left unchecked, these can malevolently influence so much of our judgment. Where we live, where we holiday, the person we marry, the person we vote for, our choice of careers, even our faith - all can be so sadly shaped by fear that they reflect nothing of our true selves, and nothing of the truth.

Did my lack of fear throw a blanket beneath me to soften my fall at the beach?  No doubt I was more relaxed without its yoke around my neck as I fell, so maybe it did.  Could the absence of fear make all of life’s falls a bit gentler?  
It may be a lifelong process to banish fear from our lives, but surely it is one worthy of our undertaking.   
Just imagine what we could all do without it.