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By Shane Gilreath
Sunday morning, as I stared out at the Carolina coastline, the sun’s beams peaking over the horizon to awaken a new day, a Lady Gaga lyric from the film “A Star is Born” kept playing in my head: “every time we say goodbye, baby, it hurts.” For most people, it’s not necessarily a song that conjures geography, nor does it usually for me, but as I stood there with the sun rearing above South Carolina, toes in the sand and gazing out at Atlantic waves crashing against the sandy earth, I felt confidently that my sandlapper blood, in its usual fate, had rightly called me home. My feelings there run deep. The earth, there, brings my soul something intrinsic that it desperately craves. It soothes me with a truthfulness that answers questions deep within. Sullen moods suddenly disappear with that sunrise over the Atlantic and the constant lyrical lapping of water against the sand, but it’s an emotion that also leaves me cognitive that life is both consistent and needs change, the latter of which is not my favorite of life’s perpetual motions.
In many ways, life mimics the unceasing nature of waves. It comes at you in spurts, sometimes stronger than others, thrusting and crashing with great surprise, whether you’re ready for it or not. Large and small. High and low. Sometimes, it knocks you on your backside and dares you to stand back up. There’s a part of me that thrives in those environments and longs to be shown that God is big when I am small. Such messages are abundant when we look for them, and I have looked for a lot of them lately. It seems appropriate that such a seeking brought me to a place that feels like home.
A few nights before, as I walked alone along the coast, a white object caught my attention in the sand. The truth is, in modernity, it might have been anything, and most times, I find I’m too entranced by nature’s repetition to notice too many rocks and shells in my path. I tend to kick through the surf and trudge onward and over. As the object peeked from the sand, planted and then revealed by the tide, I found a broken piece of conch. In the end, it proved valuable. It had been cleaned and polished by the relentless sand and brushed by the waves and found itself renewed and pristinely white. It seemed a symbol of life, that we, too, can be renewed during hardships.
I could only smile at the appropriateness. Timing, they say, is everything. “I needed that,” I thought. The world really is small and we are small in it. Earlier in the week, I had taken part in an enthusiasm seminar taught by motivational speaker Tommy Lanham and his wife, Tammy, friends of mine from years back, allowing the miracle of technology to beam the Lanhams to me from the Catskills and Long Island, New York, nearly a thousand miles away. On Saturday night, I was seated by a Ukranian hostess and served by a Bulgarian waiter. Obstacles are really what we make them to be. Water may be relentless, but it also carries dreams, and I had an instant realization that how we handle the waves in our own lives really does make us or break us. It’s an important trait to have to be able to adapt quickly and tumble with the waves.