Are you a participator of life? Unwrapping the gift of today.

My cousin is on the boogie board, trying to ride the surf.  My daughter is digging sand wells with a plastic, blue and yellow shovel.  My mother walks down the beach towards us, past the abandoned fishing boat.  She dares my daughter to chase the white caps breaking on the shore.  They slap and roar as they pummel the wet sand.  My daughter squeals and lifts her feet in joyous terror.  My grandmother stands with me on the sand and talks.  Her sister wades into the ocean and floats on her back, bobbing with the swell of the tide.

My feet sink under the wet sand, between the shore and the surf.  They are fully buried.  My daughter pours water over them to make them “grow” out of the sand like a flower.  “Look.  There they are” I encourage her.  “You made my feet grow out of the sand.”

I don’t need to think about how I will engage this moment.   I am a participator of it, but lately I have been more of an observer of life.  The gift of this moment causes me to consider the value of both.

With family roots in Barbados, visiting this Caribbean island has always been like coming home.

We drive to a beach house from the airport, and I feel that Barbados is somehow more beautiful than it has ever been.  Maybe it was the bright sunshine compared to the grey weather I had flown in from.  Perhaps it was the expression of culture that sang out from every brightly painted house.  Maybe it was my feeling of gratitude after we all survived a turbulent plane ride, or in general for surviving the past year and finding myself in this wonderful, stress-free moment.  This perfect moment, where everything that is happening, and all the characters in it, made it complete.

This moment on the ocean, this time I have with family, is a gift.  Then I think, I could be living this same moment in a different scene; a scene back home where I would be wrapped up in routine, or busyness, and might not notice how rare and precious this moment still is.  In the routine of every day life I often forget how inestimable each moment is, and what an opportunity it is to be present, spend time with the ones I love, and participate in life instead of just observing it.

It’s strange how sometimes it takes a moment like this, a vacation, a new friend, or a life changing event like a birth or a death, to interrupt my ordinary, and remind me it’s extraordinary.

No two days will ever be the same.  No moment in time will ever come again.  Each day is a gift that will never be offered again.

As the American Cartoonist, Bil Keane, said, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.”

I wonder what I will unwrap tomorrow…




Shawna is a writer and public speaker.  Email Shawna to invite her to speak at your next event. 

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