"BEAUTY IS NO QUALITY IN THINGS THEMSELVES: IT EXISTS MERELY IN THE MIND WHICH CONTEMPLATES THEM." -David Hume
There are moments in life that only happen once...the first time you hold your baby in your arms...your first kiss...the first time you witness something truly spectacular...with your own eyes. For some people...that "something spectacular" is one of the wonders of the world or a beautiful sunset...for others...the simplest of things can seem spectacular. I witnessed this firsthand this morning.
My son spent hours collecting pieces of broken shells yesterday. I kept telling him that those were not shells...that they were just broken pieces...but he did not care. He continued to collect them like treasures. My husband and daughters were going on an early morning horse ride that my son is too young to go on, so I told him that he and I would go out on the beach early...at sunrise...because that's when you find REAL treasures on the beach. I got him up at 6:30 A.M. and we headed out close to 7. He was excited. In fact, he was bugging me to go the whole time I was brushing my teeth. We got our pails...and shovels...and set out on our treasure hunt.
The beach is an amazing place early. It is like a completely different world...not ANYTHING like it is during the day. The pelicans are diving for their morning breakfast...men are fishing...it's quiet and peaceful...everything looks new and refreshed. We saw lots of cool stuff. We saw a man fishing that caught a stingray. My son got to see it flutter and see the big barb on it's tail. Another man caught a small shark and let J watch him take the hook out and throw it back out in the ocean. Then, there was a big shell that we came upon...the shell of a horseshoe crab. A lady told him that they are one of the oldest creatures...that they date back to prehistoric times. He touched the shell and we continued on. An older woman showed us how to find sand dollars coming up out of the sand. We got 4 small ones and 1 medium sized one. I was excited, but also surprised how dirty and hairy and smelly they are when you find them. I expected them to be smooth and white and beautiful. I didn't know until I got back to the villa and did some research that they have to be cleaned and preserved.
I had so much fun this morning on the beach, but still...with all we saw...and all the shells we came upon...intact...my son continued to collect broken pieces of shells. I caught myself feeling frustrated...not outwardly...but I couldn't help but wonder why he kept picking up what seemed like trash to me. As we walked along and he found another piece of shell, he would tell me how beautiful it was...how special...how lucky he was to find it. No matter how many broken shells he found...no matter how similar they were...he found something unique...beautiful about each and every one.
I had my own "spectacular moment" and I learned an important lesson this morning on the beach. I will cherish the things that I learned at the feet of my child. I have to wonder how many times in my life I have walked past things that seem broken...ugly...worthless. I wonder how much joy and how much beauty that I have overlooked in my quest for perfection. My 6 yr old taught me to stop overlooking the beauty that is at my feet everyday. He does not see the shells as they are...broken. He sees them as they could be...as they once were. There is beauty all around me that I never see.