Almost everyone is familiar with the brand “Life’s a Beach.” Clearly…it’s not. But on the other hand…maybe it should be. Here comes another plug for travel as way to calibrate your human condition to a more balanced setting. Not to mention the creative benefits associated with the situational awareness, that only comes from the sensory shock of new surroundings and situations. My definition of a “vacation” has always been a little different. I didn’t travel much as a child, with four other siblings, my Mother and Father worked very hard to provide the faith, family and freedom we needed to grow…not to mention the other spiritual and literal food necessary to raise us. Traditional vacations growing up were few and far between. I believe this is a big reason I value the ability to escape within the design of our homes, and strive to create spaces for people to center their psyche on a daily basis. Still, there is no substitute for getting away. To immerse yourself into another culture, atmosphere or situation that help you discover, or often times rediscover, the parts of yourself that really matter.
It wasn’t until I married my wife Julie that I really started to explore the world. In her willingness to want to craft a life with me, I found a tremendous sense of redemption both personally and professionally. I still can’t believe she picked me. Baggage and all. That’s just one of the reasons it all works. We’re both unselfishly willing to share the burden of each others luggage. She encouraged me to go into business for myself…and has been with me every step of the way. A “Life less Ordinary” was what we set out to create. Boy have we done that. To this day she’s still my biggest fan…and helps me believe I can accomplish just about anything….provided I’ve thought it all the way through from a shared perspective. Words cannot adequately express the depth of my love and gratitude for her love, friendship, encouragement and support. Somewhere along the way vacations for both of us become so much more than exploration, relaxation or the wildly overused “recharging of the batteries.” No, somewhere along the way, vacations became a chance for spiritual and psychological rebirth. A concept that lands me squarely on the target of today’s blog.
As I walked the beach with my family on a recent vacation, I noticed some pretty amazing things. I noticed that the nationalities and races represented were too numerous to count. I also noticed that the diversity of the thousands of people on the beach wasn’t a carefully regulated social condition or diversity program. It was merely a product of individuals coexisting in an atmosphere of appreciation, and more importantly respect, for the same things. In this case…some very simple things. Some freedom and peace to enjoy a little sun, fun, family and friendship. Although not a complex landscape, the beach offered so many people so many choices. Some used her beautiful space to play sports, some relaxed, while others seemed engaged in a host of activities that seemed fulfilling, frivolous or a combination of both. Please understand, my life experience has forged in me a realistic disposition, still fueled by a passionate optimism that is reinforced by the best in people. Listen, don’t get me wrong…I’m not trying to foist onto your digital dossier some weak, dream-like, unattainable Utopian scenario. I’m merely saying that when engaged in the appreciation, love and respect for a common cause, experience or goal…that there’s so much more that unites than can ever really divide us. Especially when we are all are playing by the same set of rules. Something that in today’s political landscape is so easily clouded by so many. Our strength as a nation, is directly dependent upon a shared responsibility to keep a firm, respectful and committed grip on that which unites us. But lately…we appear all too focused on the ways we are different…instead of reaffirming so much of what we have in common. The essential things in life. The things that we see very clearly when we’re not distracted. Like maybe when we’re on vacation…or on a beach?
As I was walking back through the public beach to the place we were staying, I heard what sounded like group of people singing. Through the wind and the waves I heard what sounded like an old spiritual hymn. It was so beautiful. As I curiously bobbed and weaved to peer through the shifting crowd, it was just as I had suspected. I saw a group of worshipers singing, as a man dressed in white was being guided into the Gulf by what appeared to be a Pastor and what I assume was his Witness. I quickly realized this was a Baptism. As a Christian, and feeling an immediate kinship with them, I moved in closer. As I did so, two of the women in the congregation turned toward me, smiled and invited me to stand a bit closer. So I did. I could see tears of celebration in their eyes as the gravity of this moment came over them…which made me tear up as well. In that moment, there was no acknowledgement of race. There was no recognition of gender. There was no division by denomination…there was only respect and tolerance. Or maybe, there was so much more? As the man was immersed in the Gulf, and raised back to his feet, the crowd clapped in recognition of this profound, blessed and public display of love, acceptance, commitment and peace. Something it seems the world could use a little more of these days. And further proof that redemption can be found just about everywhere…if you’re willing to ask for it…and put in the work. So, I’ll say it again; Life may not be a beach…but we all could do worse than to model our daily interaction with each other as though it were. Maybe vacations really are a rebirth. Well, at least for today…it sure did seem that way to me. The older I get, the more amazed I am at the realizations one can have as a result of a good walk on the beach.