Winter is not quite over. But after a couple spectacular blizzards in mid January and February, New England has been enjoying some record-breaking warmth. Last Friday, the temperature reached 75° — beating the historical average for that day by a whopping 35°.
I donned shorts and a tank top, slipping into the sandals I’d dug out from the back of the closet. And for one glorious day, it was summer.
I love summer.
In fact, I chose one of the iconic symbols of summer time as the primary image for the cover of my first book, The Best Advice So Far. And it wasn’t just because I like the taste of lemonade. It’s more than that for me. It’s a symbol of hope, of childlike adventure, of making time for the important little things we so often tend to whiz by in life.
In my last post, I shared a sample chapter from the audiobook recording of The Best Advice So Far, for which editing is currently underway. Well, since my health, energy and focus have returned, I’ve also got my sights set on the next book.
Before I’d gotten very far into writing The Best Advice So Far, I knew that lemonade would be the theme. And here again, as I plan the next book, I’m already all but settled on the imagery for its cover: sea glass.
At the center of my mentoring, facilitation and everything I write is this statement: “You always have a choice.” And like lemonade, sea glass is about much more than what it appears to be on the surface.
For me, sea glass represents choices. Below are just a handful.
The choice to slow down
For many, the ocean itself is a symbol of vacation, of leisure, of rest.
With me, it goes even deeper.
There’s something about the slow, steady rhythm of waves along the shoreline that reminds me of the importance of being still. And if I walk beside them long enough, it’s as if they begin to whisper ancient secrets about things that really matter.
Finding sea glass requires devoting time to actively doing nothing — totally removed from the often frantic pace of life. And that in itself tends to open us up to important reflection.
To sum it up, sea glass seems to say, “Slow down … or you’re going to miss it all.”
The choice to keep hope alive
We do not look for what we don’t expect — or at least hope — to find. And yet part of the fun of finding sea glass lies in the fact that it is rare.
In other words, when searching for sea glass, most of what you find isn’t sea glass. It’s just sand. A vein of quartz in a stone. An opalescent shell. A glint of sunlight from a wet pebble.
Hope is often deferred. And hope deferred builds patience.
So you keep looking. And if you don’t find what you’re looking for today, you’re sure you will the next time. It all has a way of helping you remain on the lookout for the possibilities in life, even when no immediate evidence may have presented itself for some time.
The choice to remain childlike
When you finally find your prize —amber, green, cobalt, pink — you inevitably find yourself asking questions you’ll never be able to answer, but which spark the imagination:
What was this a part of?
Where did it come from?
How old is it?
How long has it been here?
Who made it?
Who was its original owner?
How did it wind up in the sea?
Was it part of a message in a bottle?
Who else in history has touched this?
What stories are held here?
There’s just something about finding a piece of sea glass that keeps a sense of childlike wonder, curiosity and adventure alive and limber.
The choice to appreciate the little things
The stark fact is that sea glass … isn’t worth anything. One could look at sea glass and see broken bits of garbage. And they wouldn’t be wrong.
That is to say, the only value that sea glass holds is the value we ascribe to it.
And what an important life perspective that is — the ability to see the extraordinary amid the ordinary, to both notice and find the beauty in things, experiences and people where others might overlook or dismiss them as useless or inconsequential.
It’s no wonder, then, that those who are able to experience joy in the many simple and free pleasures in life find it easier to be happy more often.
The choice to focus on the positive
I write, speak and think often about the value in developing both the skill and resolve to find the silver lining in every situation. What better practice than sifting for hours through seaweed, sand and stones, determined to find the hidden treasure there?
It should come as no surprise that so many of my closest friends are also collectors and appreciators of sea glass. So I not only see it in my own spaces, but displayed on the shelves and end tables and window sills and fireplace mantels of wonderful people who exemplify living like it matters. It provides all the more prompts to focus on the positive, as well as being a reminder of the choices I’ve made thus far in life to surround myself with other positive people.
And that makes a world of difference.
It’s my hope that you found some inspiration, motivation or encouragement here.
Even if sea glass doesn’t happen to be your thing, I encourage you to seek out your own little everyday reminders to continually choose happiness.
And just maybe, the next time you chance across a piece of sea glass — you’ll see something more.