3 instructions for a better life

There is a man who was looking for answers. He asked lots of questions and tried to listen but he was not satisfied with what he heard. He asked his doctor, he asked his pastor and anyone else he thought had more wisdom than he did. It was almost to a point of desperation for him.

It wasn’t that he was sick or losing his faith but rather he felt the urgency of life and it was welling up in him daily. It was bringing him anxiousness and awareness that he was not in control and he wanted to know how to fix it. What could he do? Things came at him quickly in various channels. TV, his phone, email, Facebook and Twitter just to name a few of the paths that tasks and people demanded his attention and time.

The man was walking on the beach one day and stumbled on a bottle buried in the sand. He picked it up and noticed a stopper in the neck and a small piece of paper in the bottom. Opening it, he removed the curl of paper and carefully unrolled it. It seemed very old and fragile.

It said “Sit down”.

He looked around for the candid camera or who ever was joking with him but he found himself alone. He noticed a large chunk of driftwood about 20 feet away so he walked over and found a place to sit down. The day was overcast a bit but warm so he was comfortable enough. Not sure why he was sitting there he began to notice things.

Time is funny in places like this. It begins to stretch out and as he sat there he noticed the grains of sand around him moving in the breeze. Not much movement but still something he would have overlooked had he not been sitting there quietly. He noticed that his cell phone was strangely quiet too. Glancing at it he saw there were ‘no bars’ and the battery was almost dead. He relaxed. The day was his and this seemed like the right thing to do. He sat.

As time passed the man began to see more things. Things that were always there but now that his attention was not diverted by his phone or email, he began to notice them. The seagulls were flying overhead. Small sandpipers were running back and forth as the waves crashed in on the sand. Probing with their beaks for morsels that the water stirred up. Pelicans were gliding along the surface of the water, dipping in and carrying away a fish once in a while.

The wind picked up a bit more and the sand at his feet moved a bit more revealing a glint of light. As he watched in amazement he began to see the shape of another bottle. Looking around for that camera again he found himself still alone. Picking up the bottle he sees a stopper and a curl of paper in the bottom of the bottle again.

Removing it and carefully unrolling the paper all he sees is the word ‘Listen’.

‘To what?’ he thought. No one is here but he made an effort to listen. The obvious was the water. The wave washing up on the sand. The surf coming in and going out in a rhythm that matches life. A heartbeat of the ocean. Then it was the wind that made it’s presence known. The heartbeat was joined by the breath of the wind. The world was at work to show him the life that exists all around.

Still, nothing had changed except his perception. And his reality. A silent phone, no email, the waves and the wind. And the thoughts in his head. All the jumble of voices that brought confusion to his life. It was interesting to notice the voices seemed quieter here. Fewer of them and more clarity. Funny how the silence seemed to quiet the confusion. Clarity came as he thought about life. The sounds around him seems to disappear into his thoughts as he sat and contemplated what was really important.

The anxiousness began to melt into the sand around him and he truly began to relax for the first time in months. His need to control was fading with the idea that maybe it was not his to control. He realized that perhaps he was in charge but not in control. Funny how that works. The need for answers that did not seem to exist anyway melted away with the anxiousness. He got up and continued walking down the beach. A quieter walk but one more enjoyable than any that he could recall.

He got to the pier and ducked his head as he walked under it. Looking down he noticed a funny lump under the seaweed gathered up under the pier. Kicking at it caused it to ring and another bottle skittered away from him but came to rest where he could bend down and pick it up.

Another bottle, stoppered with another curl of paper at the bottom. He was not surprised but rather anticipated the next instruction. Gently he pulled the stopper out, unrolled the paper and all it said was ‘Come back soon’.

‘Thanks’, he thought, ‘I think I will’.

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