A few days ago I sat on the beach building sandcastles with my daughters after surfing and splashing in the sea. I took my time and carved out stars around the base of each fortress. In that moment, shaping stars, shifting stones and burying toddler tummies in mounds of sand, I silently thanked them for making me stop long enough to appreciate the gifts that surrounded me. Then and…Now. The thought that ‘Life isn’t work, its play’, flashed across my mind. I knew in that instant that the only challenges I would ever be faced with was the ability to love and trust myself fully and that the scope of my accomplishments equate only with the limits of my imagination and drive and faith. I just need to do what I love, accept all that is the beauty of me, let go and let the universe do the rest. Simple. Countless grains of sand constitute one sandcastle through the intention of my movements, my vision; of me willing the structure into existence. My thoughts are those grains of sand.
I feel like I have been living my life wading in the middle of an ocean, carried in countless gallon upon gallon of an almost never ending display of organisms and currents heading in innumerable directions (kind of like being in Times Square) and the only thing I was able to conjure is one solitary glass of water. That will not quench a lifetime of thirst to live and to be extraordinary. 2011 was a year that taught me loads about friends and family, who I am and what is exactly that I was put here to do. Lesson after lesson pointed to my wavering ability to believe in myself and my talents, to live uncompromisingly, enriched by the notion of transforming the grandeur of my dreams into reality. I took my blows like a man (I’ve always been a sucker for learning a good lesson) until, in that split sandcastle second I realized that the time for doubt and pause and ‘hmmmmmm’ had passed, never to return, leaving only the NOW, rubbed, raw and bloody but ready to heal and love and laugh and grow and create. I had made a bold commitment to pursue some very big dreams and I or anything around me would never be the same again.
The other night my daughter, Zola, reaching through the window, trying her best to prolong her bedtime, said in a tired little voice, ‘Dad, I want a star’. I thought ‘Wow, what a wish.’ And while I knew that I could not literally reach into the sky to unhinge a star and place it in her hands due to the undeniable laws of physics, I saw it as a metaphor for thinking big and not holding back. I turned and hugged her and we looked through the window together and watched the stars, twinkling, twinkling in the cool December air. Of course she wanted to count them…
That same daughter, Zola, a few months ago drew me a picture with a colorful figure smiling as they stood on top of a large green mound that was surrounded by a bower of beautiful flowers in bloom of a variety of colors. This was at a time when I was filled with self-doubt and reprehensibility, uncertain of my choices as my goals became more and more clouded (even for a lesson learning junkie like me – I felt I was in over my head). I remember her coloring with her sister Ella on the floor and then running over to me excitedly and giving me the picture. I looked at it and asked her what it was called to which she replied ‘Dad, on Top of a Mountain’. Ain’t that something? Dad on top of a mountain. That simple gesture has been a running affirmation in my life every since, reminding me to persevere and though the path may not be shiny and clear, there is a way and its definitely there.
My daughters remind me of my larger purpose and the presence of a great benevolent force circulating in the unseen, responding in kind to our wishes and actions. This blog is a step in that direction, of embracing ourselves and beyond. After all, it is the mountains that sprout within us, expanding day by day, pebble by pebble, through heartache and mistake and imposed expectations of behavior which are the hardest to climb. Mountains that seem insurmountable but which can overcome by a simple shift in thinking.
I won’t pretend I know anything and I certainly don’t know everything but writing and art has helped me figure a ton of stuff out and from my corner of the universe it has been the foundation for just about all that I am and for me that seems like a pretty good place to start.
So lets go….
Mark Jason Welch