Do you like beaches?
I was at this beautiful beach the other day and I saw something which is fairly common at a beach.
Just a few meters away from where I was sitting, a couple of kids were building a beautiful and detailed sandcastle. It was nearly done and it was a fine specimen complete with arrow slits and well designed parapets.
As I sat admiring their work, a strong wave came without warning and washed away the sandcastle.The beautiful castle they worked on so hard was gone in a flash.
I felt sorry for the kids, waiting for them to break into tears. “The ocean can be so cruel at times” , I thought to myself. The kids were motionless for a moment or two, perhaps coming to terms with the shock of their beautiful castle being just washed away by the waves so dismissively.
To my surprise, they just looked at each other, shrugged and chose a different spot a little farther away from the waves and started building a new castle with the same zeal and gusto. Not a hint of bitterness or complaint.
They got busy with building a new castle as though nothing happened.
As though the old castle that they worked so hard to build, didn’t even matter
What I Learned
In that moment I realized something very basic yet profound.
Those kids gave me the simple secret mantra to happiness: “All castles are sandcastles”
Let that sink in for a moment. All castles are sand castles. Everything that you build, acquire and accumulate is doomed. The fancy house you want to buy or have already bought, your luxury car, your huge bank balance: all of them are SANDCASTLES.
Is that a bad news? Absolutely not. If anything, it is a good news. If you can come to terms with this truth, nothing can shake your happiness. Children intuitively know this truth. They can build sandcastles all day long and not crib about the ones that got washed away by the waves.
They get excited about getting to build a new one.
Children accept things as they are. Instead of getting angry with the ocean, they build new castles. After all, it is the process of building the castles that they really enjoy. Children still have the innate wisdom to see that it is useless to waste time blaming the waves and a more fun prospect is to build a new castle again.
The bad news here is : Your sandcastle got washed away.
The good news is : Now you get to have fun building a new one!
You Always Have A Choice
You can either focus on the good news or the bad news. It is your choice. Every time one of your sandcastles (money, business, house, relationship) is washed away by the waves of time, remember this: you can choose not to focus on the bad news. Now you get to rebuild it from scratch. Fresh and better. Just shrug and get on with making a new sandcastle. After all, that’s where the fun is.
Sometimes, the waves of time intentionally washes away your sandcastles. This is to teach you an important lesson. The lesson you knew so well as a child but lost track of as you grew older. That lesson is “Detachment“.
What does this mean then? Should you build or create things without much involvement and interest because ‘everything is doomed‘ anyway?
“What’s the point in building things when everything is going to go down ultimately?”
The point is: To have fun in the process of building and creating. Build it because it is fun. Protect it as much as possible but don’t be desperately attached to it. If you relearn the art of doing things for the fun of it, no amount of ‘misery’ can bring you down.
No matter how many of your sandcastles are washed away by the waves of time, you will always be excited to build a new one.
It is a self-evident truth that everything is changing. In the light of that fact it is plain stupid to get attached to material things, people and places. Everything will be washed away one day. Even your own body and your ego are nothing but sandcastles.
Enjoy things while they last but don’t get too attached. Don’t waste too much time grieving their loss when they perish. Move on. Build a new sandcastle. Find happiness and purpose in the process of doing and building things. Don’t bother too much about the end results.
Life Is All About Building Sandcastles
Life is about building sandcastles. Not protecting and preserving them. Just play like those kids on that beach. If you can get established in this truth, nothing can keep you down for long. Every time you lose something, you will be able to just shrug and focus on building something new. Something fresh. You will grow.
If you examine the world around carefully, you will find that this is the way the universe works. The old is purged to make way for the new. Science has proved that our universe itself is expanding. Get on-board with the universe. Grow with it. Join its eternal dance of creation-destruction-creation.
There is only one way to do that. Learn to find happiness in the process of building sandcastles. And while building them, be fully aware that this creation of yours on the beach of life will be washed away by the waves of time. And be OK with that. That’s when you are truly detached. And that’s when you are truly free and thankful. That’s when you can really start enjoying what life has to offer.