Originally posted July 19, 2018
We walked into a trinkety-tourist shop at the end of a family trip, eager to spend the few coins the kids had. Spying the ever-familiar snow globe, keychain, and magnet, with the flare of the current location, I judged the location as your run-of-the-mill tourist-trap. My kids however saw every item as a “remember when” moment of our trip. A possibility to possess a memory of this family holiday. What form would each person’s memory come in?
A day prior, the four of us walked for 2 hours on the beach. Decision-making power delegated to my son to control the plan for our time. Warning: Accommodation and flexibility required! We all complied to our 8 year-old’s lead and set a time to search for sand treasures and after reunite for the great family swap of 2017!
This day seaside treasures were the commodity causing family equilibrium in the greater scheme of currency. No one possessed any advantage over another here to collect memories.
I admit, I had a bad attitude to start. It was a windy but sunny December day. The beach seemed abandoned yet still beautiful. My preferred engagement with the beach is generally to soak up nature – swim, walk, rest, read, take pictures, or even dig in the sand. This day I walked in circles! Random pieces of trash littered about. I found nothing. Disappointed there were no shells to be found but rather a standing pond of water with a plethora of seaside foam causing a great sense of caution of what bacteria was waiting to parasitically call us home.
I reluctantly complied and showed up to the barter party, however, empty-handed. After 30 minutes of trying I found nothing “treasure-worthy”. Nothing that I wanted to keep for myself or give value enough to initiate a trade. My children gave me some of their loot! Having discovered treasures unending. They possessed bags full of rocks and random pieces of whatever they stumbled upon: broken shells, an empty water bottle, chewed on trinkets, and a few bones! Treasures, eh?! The bones, as you can imagine became the hot commodity which led us scavenging through sand for a potential gravesite. Fortunately (or not) the discovery of a whole bird skeleton was eventually puzzled together and a lesson in biology, the food chain and God’s creation ensued.
My attitude gradually changed as I engaged and began seeing the experience through their eyes. Dune jumping concluded, slow-motion videos captured and bartered goods collected…we called it a day. With wonder and delight my kids shared later this was their favorite day of our vacation!
My kids remain the best teachers to me for perspective shift. Delighted over the simplest of things: Look at this rock! Look at this stick! Watch me jump into the pool. I bought you a beautiful flower! When I see the value of things, experiences or life through the eyes of a young child – I’m reminded of the un-ending need for gratitude. I’m reminded to stop and slow down and look at an experience from a different angle. I’m challenged to find the little joys in life that are right in front of me. I pray a quick prayer of repentance over my bad attitude. Sometimes the treasures are right in front of us. And sometimes they take looking at them from a 36 inch height.