I Built a Castle in the Sand
One summer holiday, my siblings and I attempted something most ambitious that I haven’t done since childhood. We built a sandcastle.
But not just any sandcastle. This was to be a castle that would raise the wind-swept sand to new heights, and trump any past monuments of grainy splendour.
My companions and I armed ourselves with 2-litre plastic buckets, a pink mini spade and a matching blue rake, and set off with our pint-sized paraphernalia and a great deal of enthusiasm.
Building a sandcastle turned out to be much harder than I had thought – especially with so many different architects and opinions!
We hauled damp sand from the water’s edge, scoured the dunes for driftwood, and filled our buckets with stones and shells, carefully washed in the sea. Several times, we considered leaving the whole project half-finished, but the thought of a perfect and admirable castle built by our own hands spurred our tired bodies onwards.
We spent several weary yet happy hours shaping the base, digging a moat, erecting towers, and decorating the whole monument with shells, coloured pebbles, and driftwood. Finally, we brushed the ebony grains from our hands and stepped back to view it with satisfaction, and not a little pride.
Our sandcastle was beautiful.
After the compulsory boasting and high-fives, we gathered our well-utilized buckets and tools, and headed home, content in the knowledge that our castle was not only beautiful, but also well out of reach of the ocean waves.
Imagine our horror when we returned a few hours later to find our magnificent sandcastle trampled into the ground.
Who would…? And why?
Was it really necessary to destroy a creation that another had obviously laboured over so tenaciously?
We stared dejectedly at the ugly pile of black sand, broken shells and half-buried pebbles. Though begun as a childish game, the sandcastle had provided much pleasure and an added enjoyment to our holiday. We had created a unique scene on the beach, leaving our fingerprint on its rugged landscape and embracing its wonder and delights.
But in the end, it had all come to nothing…
If given the opportunity to build that sandcastle again, and knowing beforehand the likely outcome of such a venture, what would I have done? What would you have done? Would we go against the tide that would try to discourage us, diminish our efforts, drag us into despair?
Determination to rise above the odds seems an innate human quality.
I would not have hesitated to build another sandcastle every bit as glorious as the first.
Building a castle in the sand was a light-hearted holiday adventure; yet I learned that, even in the face of disappointment, if I was given a smooth stretch of sand, I would optimistically hunker down and build a sandcastle again. And again.
Why then should I not do the same with life?
How many times have I laboured over a “sandcastle”, only to have circumstance or accident or even another person knock it down? How many times have I wanted to give up then and there? To throw my tools into the sea and watch the ocean drown my dreams?
I encourage you, my fellow architect, to face dashed sandcastles with a bucket and a spade.
Life is a beautiful and open sandy beach, just waiting for our ambitious dreams and deep-rooted determination. Just waiting for us to grasp the opportunities that await on its shores. Just waiting for us to dare to pick up our spade, smooth the sandy rubble, and build again.
We live in a sandcastle-crushing world…
…but this does not stop us from building castles.
© Emma McGeorge