verge (vʉrj)
the edge, brink, or margin (of something): also used figuratively the verge of the forest, on the verge of hysteria

to tend or incline (to or toward)
to be in the process of change or transition into something else; pass gradually (into) dawn verging into daylight

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Art of the Sand Dollar

I used to spend my summers on the Cape looking for sand dollars.  For countless hours I hunched myself over the sand, covering one square foot at a time while squinting my eyes and gritting my teeth, trying to force sand dollars to materialize right there before me in the sand. I did this for miles of beach, day in and day out. C'mon!  I know you're there! Show yourselves, dammitall... Once in a while someone would walk by carrying a few.  Show offs....But each year I went home empty-handed, defeated, disheartened.  Finally I surrendered.  I quit the search.  Not only did I refuse to try, but I made a point of not looking.  Nope, not going there anymore.  A waste of time.  Always turns out the same. Eventually, I even forgot about that too.  I didn't look for them, and I didn't not-look for them. I just walked on the beach. Just simply walked...on the beach.

And I kept walking, summer after summer.  Those walks became magnificent.  No cares.  How beautiful is the ocean and that undulating verge between sand right here and water, right there.  My feet mind followed.  I found an odd and unexpected fulfillment in my emptiness.  I knew that there were millions of sand dollars out there, and I didn't want a one. There was way more peace in not seeking than in seeking. At last, I had conquered the sand dollar.

And yes, of course. That's right when it happened.

I was doing my thing, walking my walk, minding my business of solitary nothingness when there before me, with unassuming beauty and unmistakeable spirit lay a single sand dollar on the sand.  I stood frozen. I blinked, and my eyes filled.  The hallowed space between my eyes and this elusive sand dollar was infinite...and I couldn't move. With unutterable joy, I scooped this treasure into my hands.  I kept this our secret, our find, our silence.  I held it quietly in my hand and said nothing.  

I continued my walk, now carrying this small piece of magic in my hand.  To my amazement, I found another, and then another.  In all, I collected twenty sand dollars during my stay and not one--not one-- did I seek.  I simply can't explain that. But I now know my searches had been misguided all those previous years. I thought I knew what I was trying to find. I thought I could make It happen. I had practiced The Art of Manipulation only to come up sorely disappointed and very lonely in it. Painstaking loneliness, yet unspeakably loud.

But in that unassuming surrender, some inner barrier was dislodged.  I had begun to take in the wider landscape. There was so much to see there.  I was only a small part of it...I found a quiet and joyful anonymity in such a landscape.  How freeing to join it in that way. As I began to spot more and more sand dollars, I began to pay attention to their prompts.  Sand dollars reveal themselves when the eyes sweep the landscape, without censorship. While scanning, the thin, crescent-shaped shadow of the sand dollar will reveal itself first, as it rests near the water's edge.  It's that little sliver of a shadow, a knowing slice of smile, that makes itself known.   It catches the eye, and it says hello....

But don't look for it. No, don't. Instead, practice the Art of Giving Up.  You will find yourself in precious company, and very rich in sand dollars.

Photo by Meredith Bempkins 

No comments:

Post a Comment