If you are like me, you’ve taken sand for granted. It’s easy to do. We love sand, not so much for what it is, but for the way it makes us feel; warm, earthy and wonderful. I can remember the first time my toes touched real sand on Stinson Beach in California. Next to cotton candy, only the beach provides me with such instant, mood-altering gratification.
But if you move beyond the pure pleasure of the moment, each beach — and grain of sand — is full of hidden secrets. Like all of us who have ever visited a beach, each grain originated somewhere and is headed somewhere else. And each grain, just like people, contains fragments of other things, collected over time — shells, corals, sponges, sea urchins or even hard tissue from marine organisms. When these organisms die, hard tissue erodes into some of the most spectacular grains of sand imaginable.
You see, sand never dies. Now sit on your towel and think about that for awhile. Sand is always changing; becoming both young and old at the exact same time. So many of my best memories involve a Michigan beach or summers in Glen Arbor; where I’ve experienced the laughter of my children, walks on long beaches in the early morning and collecting Petoskey stones until they poked holes in my pocket. We once dug a hole so large on the beach that I was sure we had altered the landscape forever. Of course, when we went back the next year it was completely gone.
I often hear people say, “life is short,” but is it really? You may want to talk to a grain of sand. Every day, a piece of sand is living a new life; taking what the water, wind and all of the different particles provide and grinding itself into a spectacular new entity. In reality, life can be long if we look at it long enough; so let’s stop and put phones and tablets down and dig deeper into that which is around us.
There are trillions of atoms in a grain of sand, more than all of the people on Earth. The Bible mentions sand 33 times. The Pyramids were built on sand, or at least the rocks used to build them were transported by sand, and some of us could be walking on Egyptian sand, or particles of Egyptian sand. Sand is either very old, or quite young, depending on how you look at it.
This summer, remember you are actually the youngest you will ever be. Listen, look closely and breathe in and accept the colors, textures and sounds which have brought you to this new shore.