I took a small day hike with the pup the other day. Nothing extreme, just needed to get my head clear. As my foot started its way down the path a voice caught my ear, low and soft spoken. An old man rest behind that voice, and he asked if he could join on the way up. He said he wanted to hike but didn’t have others to go with and he wanted to be safe. Still flustered from the 12 hour shift I put in, I gave a quick answer of, yah. No more no less. He cracked a small smile curling the top edges of his lips. 5.4 miles and he turned my day from wanting to escape, to acting like a child listening to his grandparents. Just like when you used to sit on the floor at the end of your grand dad’s recliner, where he would spew stories of war, travel, old days and so much more. I felt like that all over again. I never had time to sneak my own words into the bombardment of tall tales. I gave short answers to confirm my ears were still perched, still active.

When we got to the top, he directed me to sit and stare into mother nature’s gift that she left. He slowly turned his head, eyes raging with youthful fire behind them, skin sun kissed and scarred, his lips fully peeled back to his sagging ear lobes. He paused for a minute to stare at my dog that looked up to me almost as a god. He finished the rotation of his neck and his eyes locked on me.

“Show me what happiness looks like to you. Does she hide herself around the corners and down those unwalked hallways? Is he following just steps behind you, but you are too cowardly to turn around; too scared to see where your true happiness lies? Or do you have her in the palm of your hands, do you kiss her to sleep every night, wake up next to her and tell her all of your dirty little secrets?

But for some reason, sometimes we can’t feel any of this magic. Sometimes the spark doesn’t cause flames, sometimes the wind doesn’t shake the limbs of the tree. I don’t know why this happens. Is the media trying to medicate us all or do I actually have straight up mental illnesses? I have learned one thing along the way. It comes in a metaphor. Are you ready?

Picture a beach, your favorite beach. It could be Florida, Virginia, hell it could be the gross ass one in Boston. Now at that beach there are 3 key parts. There is the body of water; that body is you as a person. Everyday you are a little different, some days are high tides, sometimes low, some days you have rough waters, but other days you are calm. These moods are caused by the outside events of your life that shape them. The moon causes your levels and the storms cause your seas. You can not control this so let them be and know that with every high tide comes low tides and rough waters turn to smooth sailing.

The second part of this beach is the shells, these are the important things in your life. All different colors and shapes. Some are bright and happy, some are dark and gloomy, some are cracked while others are kept preserved by your waters. All play a part in your life. Some are memories or family members and some of these can be items that help you be you; such as a camera for a photographer, or a pair of ballet slippers for a dancer. All these shells mean great things to you and if you listen closely to them they will give you lessons.

The last part of your beach is the sand. Sand is all the small things. Everyday things, such as an argument, a job promotion, a mistake, or even a success. Sand is everything that is not shells but can sometimes be mistaken for shells if you focus too hard on them. One grain of sand will not cloud the ocean but many grains will. You must let the sand settle to see what is truly important again. The sand may sometimes cover up the shells on the beach, but it can always be moved again. Sand comes from all walks of life and sometimes your shells can break down into sand throughout your life. Sand is never defined, it is infinite, and if you try to fight it all at once you will lose. If you take time to learn the lessons from your shells, you will be able to control how the sand affects your waters.

This is your beach. No one beach is the same, but all beaches are made to be enjoyed and allow for peace to be brought. Some beaches have more storms and lunar eclipses, but all beaches have a sunrise and sunset.”

The last of his words rolled off his tongue in such a poetic manner. He once again turned his head to the landscape before us, smile and laughed softly to himself. A tear started to form from the corner of his eye. I let him have his time. The way down, nothing was spoken, more stops were taken to see the beauty that we were walking in. All the way to the lot, no words left his mouth, no smile was cracked, no fire behind his eyes. I turned to allow my dog to get into the car and as I turned back to say my thanks and goodbye, he was gone.