sand castles.

Sometimes, things get in life’s way. Like when eggshell falls into your cake batter or it starts to rain halfway through your picnic. The lives we live are seemingly permanent; we become so engulfed by our daily, monotonous routines, we leave very little space for change. Ask me a couple months ago, I would have told you I’m the biggest proponent of change. I “craved” it, as I would often say. But I think I was confused. I’m discovering that I loved said change as long as it occurred on my watch. Or I at least had time to absorb/accept/prepare for it. 

But isn’t it strange how life never happens according to our plans? I suppose it might for a little while. We make plans to live in this place, have this job, be friends with these people. But a disruption in some form nearly always introduces itself, whether it slowly seeps in without a second glance or it somehow pushes through the walls we’ve built so high. 

And then I think about those walls. The walls we’ve built all by ourselves. Of our own accord. And do you know what walls do? I used to think they provided safety from all that’s bad in the world. I used to think they meant that life would only and could only exist within those walls. It was something I could “control,” and I like control.

Then, in a matter of seconds, something radical, something tragic, something terrifying turned my walls into dust. Not rubble, not pieces, but dust. I learned that our walls are not made of immovable steel or unbreakable diamond. I like to say mine were made of something like wet sand. Because wet sand makes great castles. With strong, regal walls. But then waves and crabs and children come along and those walls are easily torn down. And when this happens? When our chambers of safety are destroyed? The world simply tells us to rebuild our castles. Put everything back together just how it was, so we can pretend this never happened. And life will continue to be normal and together and complete again. 

Tell me, why would I do that? Why would I try to wet the sand and rebuild everything I once knew just so another monster can take me by surprise again? All I hear is the world saying “just pick up the pieces, Haley.” And do what with them? Build more walls? Blind myself to the world that’s out there so I’ll eventually find myself sitting in a pile of dust again? No, I don’t think I’ll do that. I think I’ll leave the dust on the floor, and keep my eyes peeled for what’s coming next. It’s a little freeing, really. To know I don’t have to rectify my life with walls anymore. Monsters don’t have to completely warp our worlds. Maybe if we don’t exercise every ounce of willpower we have to keep the monsters away, they won’t be so scary.

And hey, once we step outside our castles, we can watch the tide rise and the waves break. And that is a beautiful, beautiful thing.


Portstewart, Northern Ireland