Last week I spent some time in south Florida. To relax and unwind I disconnected from my material world and meandered on the beach. There is an incredible amount of interesting shells, birds and critters that span the shoreline. On this rare occasion I witnessed a seagull devour an octopus.
But as I walked past the hundreds of beachcombers, I noticed one common theme; their heads were down. It reminded me of walking through any American city these days; everybody’s heads are down, looking at their devices, texting, playing games, etc. But these beachcombers were not looking at their phones, they were searching for shells.
But while searching for shells, they were missing out on some really great things. Like this:
As I walked for two hours, I watched three dolphins feeding in the waves. I stopped and talked to a handful of people and mentioned the dolphins. Not one person had seen them. They were too busy looking down, instead of looking around. “I didn’t know there were dolphins out there.” And, “I’ve been so busy looking at shells, I didn’t even look around to see what else there is.” We are spending our lives looking down that we ‘bearly’ see what we are walking into.
I continued to stroll on the beach, taking in the sea air, watching the dolphins swim along and noticing more and more how all of the beachcombers were looking down, so consumed with their shells. And then it hit me, this is how I live my life. I am so consumed with what is happening in the life of Molly, constantly looking down and searching for that one special thing (be it a shell, the perfect job, etc.), that I miss out on the hundreds, no thousands of delightful surprises that pop up in life around me. Dolphins, my nieces wanting to play Candyland (again) or the beautiful blue color of my mother’s eyes.
St. Pope John Paul II said, “Man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for himself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of self.” (Gadium et Spes, No. 24).
Let’s learn to go outside of ourselves. Let’s look up. And look around. At others. The sky. Nature. It’s time to take a step out of our little worlds and go beyond ourselves. God has great things waiting for us to witness. But we must step outside of ourselves to see them and we must learn to keep our chin up.