This summer, in the middle of major decisions about life, time, commitments, priorities, i was faced with a challenge I never thought I’d face, one that seemed incomprehensible to me. A few years ago I started a theatre company with a close friend. This was the thing. The thing that was next, the thing of my (our) future. We would commit to it, build it, build it into something great.
And then something changed. And suddenly this thing, this company, did not fit anymore in the way it had. And i was wrestling with what to do about that. Can I leave this thing? This thing I had been so committed to, that was the thing, my future, something i’d poured hours of work into, invested my heart, energy, time into? How was that possible?
I had an image in my mind, then, of this decision i was facing. It was this.
There I was, on the shore, desperately building sand castles and the waves would come, wash it away, and i’d begin again. Always building, constantly building. Sometimes frantically building. Focused on this – the building, building, building. But there, further up the shore, somewhere behind me, a foundation needed to be built. Of permanence. I foundation on which many things depended.
I’d just gotten married, and this was the challenge. Now was the time to step away from the sand castles and spend time on the foundation – carving stones that would sit side by side creating a base on which all else would be built. The foundation to last a lifetime.
I had to make a choice.
And what i realized in that choice was that the sand castles would always be there. The waves would come, wash them away, there would always be sand to sift and form and pile and make into beautiful creations, but there would only be one time to make this foundation. One time. Now was that time.
And as I stepped back from the sand castles, and walked up to the place where the foundation was to be laid I could see the waves and the sand and the great expanse of the ocean reaching far, far, far into the horizon and knew – it would always be there. And when the foundation was laid, who was to say what kind of sand castles I would go back and make.
There is still time. For that. There will still be time for that. There is no need to fret or worry or let the anxiety of the sand castles being washed away paralyze you from stepping away to build the lasting foundation. There is still time. And suddenly it wasn’t so frightening, that stepping away. There was a peace about it because I knew the sand and the waves and the ocean and the horizon would always be there, and while i invested in hewing stones for the foundation of the next chapter of my life, who was to say what kinds of sand castles would be in store for me in the future. And there was relief. And a release. A release from the fear of leaving the thing I knew so well, had done for years on end, the sometimes frantic building and rebuilding of the sand castles. That, too, would take a new shape, a different shape, one that could rest then, too, on a deeper, firmer foundation, free from the franticness:
“And the old voice,
which once made its broken-off, choked, parrot-incoherences,
this time on the palatum cordis
this time saying there is time, still time,
for one who can groan
for one who can sing to be healed.” (from The Still Time by Galway Kinnell)