Ayurveda Day 26: Sandcastles

Imagine you are on a beach. There is endless sand around you, and an endless ocean who’s tide is slowly coming in and out. The sun is shining. There’s no one else on this beach. It’s all yours.

You spend some time in silence on this beach. You look at the waves, listen to the ocean, smell the salt in the air. After sometime however, you begin to realize how alone you actually are. You become a little nervous, a little scared, to be stuck sitting alone with yourself and feeling so insignificant.

Then you realize that there’s this infinite sandbox surrounding you. You can build anything you want out of it. So in an effort to distract yourself from this feeling of insignificance, you decide to build a sand castle.

You start to ignore the ocean now, and it’s tide. You are fixated on your castle. You make it clumsily; after all, it is your first castle on this beach. Nonetheless, you make it. You step back to look at it and are proud. You decide it can be better though, and continue to build, further ignoring the ocean, further ignoring the fact that the tide is creeping up to your castle. You become better and better and creating, honing your skill.

One day, after building an elaborate and vast kingdom of sand, you notice the waves have become threatening. You scramble to brace yourself and save your castle, but no matter what you do, you know you cannot stop it. The waves come crashing and wipe away all you’ve created on these shores, and when it is finally done thrashing you around, you look back to see the aftermath of it’s wake.

With futility you try to reassemble what you can. It’s all haphazard now, but you quickly attempt to recover any memory of your former creation. In your heart however, you know that no matter how hard you try, you can never build the same castle again, with the same grains of sand, in the same way. It is all indistinguishable now.

At this point, you are faced with a choice: Either return to sit and watch the waves in stillness, accepting how fleeting and insignificantly beautiful your time on this shore is, or build a bigger, better, stronger kingdom of sand. You choose the latter.

You have built many castles now. You have made walls and ramparts and trenches and anything you can think of to protect your precious creation. But the tide is patient, in no hurry. Eventually it comes, again and again. Sometimes it eats away slowly enough that you can salvage it. Other times it comes crashing leaving an unrecoverable shore. Eventually, it always leaves you with the same two choices.

How often would you choose to keep rebuilding?
At what point would you stop, and decide that you need not even wait for the tide, but should join in it’s undulating by knocking down your creations yourself?
At what point would simply watching the waves silently be enough for you?

Change is the only true constant in our existence. We all have our own private beach within ourselves. And we all build sandcastles within. It’s natural. When we are afraid, our ego screams loudly for us to protect ourselves with drama and distractions. We build these castles around our heart, hiding from the chaotic truth that is the ocean of our soul. It’s a defense mechanism.

But that change will always come, and is indiscriminate as to what it will wash away.

We are more than just what we can create. We are more than our ego, our desires, our defenses.
When we can just go with the flow of the tide, and not be attached to impermanent ideas that spring from the sands, then our true self can emerge.

Everything else is just an illusion.

With gratitude,

S

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