A trip to the beach would not be complete without the building of at least one sandcastle. It's practically a tradition to feel the gritty crunch of sand beneath my feet while shaping a pile of the stuff into a masterpiece. Admittedly, my creations were few and far between during a recent week at the beach. Between the allure of the cool green water and the new mystery book calling my name from the chair, building sandcastles took a backseat. Yet I still built one or two sand sculptures with the held. And perhaps even more important than the actual creations themselves are the lessons I've learned from building them--lessons that, as strange as it may seem, can apply to life as well.
1. Have a Firm Foundation
Before building up a sandy stronghold, you have to have a good base. This usually involves smoothing out a patch of sand upon which to sculpt on. The patch of sand has to be chosen with care--it can't be too far forward, or the waves will get it before you've constructed the first tower. It has to be somewhere people won't step on it. And it has to be in a place where the sand is firm, not riddled with crab hidey-holes or pockmarked with shells. The sandcastle is dependent on its foundation--just like in life, you should have a foundation of your own. Whenever you go on to the next great adventure, it's important to know that someone has got your back. Your foundation--your family, your friends, your faith, etc.--will support you through good times and bad. And even if you get "washed away", your foundation will be there to help you rebuild.
2. Use Sturdy Materials
A true sandcastle connoisseur knows that there are many kinds of sand. For example, there's a difference between the slippery white stuff that slides through your fingers and the grainy, damp mud that is much more malleable. Both kinds are needed in order to make a successful sandcastle. You can't fill your castle mold with the completely sticky stuff, because you won't be able to get it out. But the powdery white sand sort of just...sits there. It never lends itself to a mold, and it practically disintegrates whenever you try to force it into a shape. In life, be sure you're building yourself up with sturdy materials. Make sure you surround yourself with the things--and the people--you think will build you up, not send you tumbling down. It's okay to use a wide variety of sand (and resources) as long as they're all working together to help attain the final product.
3. Don't Be Afraid to Break the Mold
The sandcastle molds we have certainly make much more elaborate shapes than I could ever make on my own. There are towering spires, castle towers and even some fun sea creature shapes. And while there's definitely a time and a place for the molds, there's not that much you can do with them to make them original. If you put sand into a starfish mold, it will always come out as a starfish. It is what you do outside of the mold that truly makes the castle "yours." So don't be afraid to look beyond the mold--and your comfort zone. Try a little freehand sculpting. Or use the mold as a base, and then add your own touches from there.
4. Learn How to Let Go
Even the most beautiful castle will eventually be dashed to pieces by the waves (or the beach patrol). And sometimes that's how life will seem, too--you do so much hard work, and it seems like absolutely nothing comes out of it. But in the end, remember this: you're not building a sandcastle so that it lasts. You're building it for the fun, the memories, the camaraderie with friends and family...whatever reason you may have to take a shovel to the sand. In life, nothing lasts forever. No matter how hard you work, there are some times that your hopes and dreams will be cruelly dashed to bits by the "waves." When this happens, you've got to learn how to let go. Appreciate how hard you worked, and what you learned from failure. Think back on all of the positive memories you had. And then go back to the foundation. After all, there are still a few weeks left of summer, and a countless number of sandcastles to build.