As a young child I remember hunting furiously for exotic shells – intricate, spiraled and colorful. I rarely found anything resembling these on the shores of the Eastern US where my family vacationed but my search continued each trip anyway, hunting for the seemingly elusive treasures of the sea.
I was reminded of this youthful search this week as I walked along the shores of the Outer Banks in Corolla, NC each morning of my recent vacation, enjoying the beach experience overall but still finding my eyes searching the sand for that one, exquisite, exotic shell.
Walking along the beautiful shoreline it occurred to me that this shell search was a life lesson. If I spent my walks each morning squinting into the wet sand, searching for a rare and perfect shell, I would be missing the beauty of the rest of the experience: seeing the majesty of the waves, smelling the ocean air, watching the quirky and often humorous bird behaviors; feeling the sun and the breeze from the sea on my skin and the sand under my feet.
This seashell-search is a perfect metaphor for life. How often are we laser-focused on achieving a certain salary, job title, amount of money in the bank, or house in a specific neighborhood while missing all the wonderful moments along the way?
We are surrounded by books, teachers and social media memes reminding us to “live in the moment” but how many times do we stop and actually do it?
Sooner than I’m ready to be, I’ll be unpacking my shorts, washing the sand from my towels and spending the early morning hours in traffic, far from the shore. In addition to my suntan, and the shells I picked up on my morning walks, I’ll take home this lesson about enjoying each moment without focusing on the hunt for the perfect treasure; remembering that life’s treasures are found in abundance in each moment of my life.
And so it is.