On Thursday I had intended to go for a short walk/run (when will someone invent a word for the walk/run? A Ralk? A Wun? Anyway) just after 5pm, partly because I hadn’t done any exercise in a while and partly to re-energise me because I knew I would be staying back late to work.
I’d packed my gear in the morning, and spent the first part of the day almost a little smug that I was that organised. My usual options for exercise consist of a Ralk (!) either early in the morning or late on a Saturday or Sunday. So the idea of taking my gear to work felt pretty good. Until I realised I had everything except my shoes!
My feet are definitely not ready for barefoot running in suburbia and so instead I decided to go for a walk on the beach.
I went down to the beach at Cotton Tree, ready to walk on down and enjoy a bit of this:
As I walked towards the beach I enjoyed the usual view of a snippet of the ocean while I made my way along the path.
Then suddenly, I noticed something.
What was that at the end of the path? Was that rocks?
I kept on walking, and when I got onto the “beach” the view before me took my breath away.
Usually, the beach here at Maroochydore / Cotton Tree, is the stuff of postcards. Expanses of white sand, usually filled with individuals and couples walking and running on the sand, families and their small children paddling at the water’s edge and often fisherman trying their hand near the water, as surfers and kite boarders enjoy the ocean.
Instead, there were ripples of black hard rock formations as far as the eye could see. And very few people. As I started walking I soon understood why. There was no leisurely walking options, I had to watch every step as the surface beneath my feet was anything but flat.
As I made my way through and over and around the rock formations, at first I was sad that the beach was not as I remembered it. Why wasn’t I able to just walk and run along the flat sand that I was expecting?
It was the crazy storms that happened over the Australia Day weekend that did this. That reached in, grabbed that sand that we knew and loved and took it out to sea. In the first days after the storm, we couldn’t really see the damage for all the froth and the foam. The frenzy that had been whipped up during the storm.
Now that things have calmed, the wind has stopped and the foam has disappeared, we are left with the aftermath of a mega storm.
When I had come to the beach in the past and saw the flat white sand, somehow I thought that was all there was.
But the storm exposed what had already been there. Hidden beneath that sand. A dark strength that had previously been hidden from the world.
And I couldn’t help thinking how similar it can be for people. That so very often we present to the world our beautiful soft sand, a calm flat version of ourselves. Our own personal postcard.
But sometimes, life whips up a storm. Most storms are relatively small, just moving that top layer of our sand, maybe resculpting a few things here and there, but allowing the postcard presentation to continue.
Then, sometimes, without any rhyme or reason, there is a storm that is off the scale. One that really rocks us to our core, that rips away that picture perfect facade, exposing what lies beneath. Some will have a rocky core, others will have a swampy sludge beneath their sand, and even others will have sand that goes far deeper than you would expect.
When the sand is gone, what do we do? Do we close the beach and say “don’t look, things have changed, and I need to put it all back together before you can look”. Some of us hide our damage. We retreat after our storm, we hide our inner core, until we’ve rebuilt a top layer that we’re happy to show to the world.
What if we chose to handle it differently. To simply say “things have changed, it won’t be what you are expecting, and in time it will come back”. We all have that inner core.
The storms of life will come. Some big, some small.
I hope that like my beach, I can stand still knowing that my insides are exposed for a while. Firm in the belief that my sand will return in time. And to be understanding of others, even those who only choose to let me see their postcard.
And for my dear friends who can feel the winds and the rain picking up their pace, may there be some peace as you watch the frenzied foam, knowing that your sand is being ripped from you. But life, always, is so much more than one storm. I hope that we can all learn to believe that no matter the damage we see right now, that one day, we can look out and see that a completely new beach has been laid at our feet.