The unseasonably warm weather last week (oh, yes, change is on the wing!) found me looking for shells on the October beach. There were few shells– the result, I suspect, of offshore dredging. My friend, an avid shell collector, told me that she was remarking on this the other day when her young grand daughter replied, “But, Grandma, the fun is in looking.”
It seems as if humans are always looking for something or other—for shells that will enchant us, for music and books that will transport us, for knowledge, for pleasure or the jeans that will actually fit—and believe me, I know about that. When I was little, I sought the perfect toy only to discard it for a better toy. Later, like so many of my friends, I kept looking for the fairy tale ending to a perfect love.
Searching still takes up a lot of my time. That’s part of being human, I assured myself as I walked along the beach. The Search continues to be a wonderful adventure. Tireless researchers have sought and found cures for terrible illnesses; curious inventors have given us light and sound and technology through countless hours of seeking. And scientists were always on the lookout for new species.
But sometimes searching drifted into obsession, you could point out. True, there would always be people who tended to be inveterate searchers who drifted from one thing to another, always looking for the perfect ‘fit’ but never finding it. Carried to an extreme, searching could cause us to roam through jobs or relationships, always dreaming of the next ‘right’ one and never finding the gold at the end of the rainbow.
Oh– a lovely shell!
But look, it is very small…
Best find another.
There are always goal-seekers among us, those intrepid souls who set a goal and pursue it with single minded conviction. Pretty awesome, right? But here’s the thing—sometimes goal-seekers achieved their brass ring and then right away set off to catch another. Did they ever enjoy what they had worked so hard to attain? I’ve wondered about that.
I myself am a waffler. My searching often takes side-trips because what I am after never stays on a single path. The story I am writing or the art quilt I am constructing would suffer because I find a better idea. The project I am looking for suddenly morphs in a new direction or turn into a dead end, forcing me to seek new routes to my goal. And there are times when I have to stop and consider, because that new and better idea I just discovered meant abandoning so many other ideas, disrupting carefully laid plans…
The dark-haired woman was standing in front of me. She was frowning. “Excuse me,” she repeated, “but have you seen my husband’s sun glasses on your walk?” I regretted that I hadn’t. “I can’t believe it,” she snorted. “This is the second pair he’s lost. He’s as blind as a bat without them. So now he gets this new pair—a really expensive pair— and what does he do? He wears them when he goes looking for shells. Of course the stupid things fall into the water and a wave takes them!”
She walked away muttering, and I watched her go thinking that this really had to be the caveat for all us. While we were out looking for that special something, we had to be careful that we didn’t lose what’s really important along the way.
The way we travel
Can truly be beautiful…
Should we stop and look?