As promised, this is a story of desire, murder and remorse. The plot will never show up on Law and Order since the victim of this crime won’t engender any more sympathy than the death of Saddem Hussein. I may have underestimated the people who will read this who still are ticked off about Bambi’s mother . . . so, I will let the chips fall where they may.
Since this is my “beach blog series” you probably are already suspicious that the “footprint” mentioned in the title is going to be footprints in the sand. With all respect to that old [worn out] adage about “He carried” me leaving only “His” footsteps in the sand, this is another set of footprints entirely.
One cannot travel very far down the shoreline without seeing evidence of all those footsteps that have been there in the last 24 hours. Even if the tide has taken away the actual footsteps, the trail of them remains. There are always a couple of remains of the day left by children . . . an occasional shovel or sand strainer.
I understand that . . . children are, well . . . children. They are busy, forgetful, and less than responsible when it comes to collecting their belongings. But what about the adults? There are water bottles and fishing hooks with line, apple cores and banana peels, sunscreen bottles and food wrappers.
People must think that it is OK to toss their food garbage onto the sand since it is biodegradable; but, seriously folks, I so do NOT want to see your-half chewed apple on my nature walk. But I digress from the actual point of this blog, which is a tale of murder and hopeful redemption.
On my early morning walk (this is blog three of that fateful day) I saw this bee-U-tee-ful shell glistening on the beach. The picture just does not do it justice, as it is striped in exquisite soft pastels of green, mauve and beige. I wanted to add this to my collection of beautiful finds on the beach.
When I picked it up to look (lovingly?) at it, I turned it over. The resident in that shell, who was alive and well, jumped back inside the shell, shrinking until almost invisible. But I knew s/he was in there. Thus began a moral dilemma for me that didn’t end so well for the little crustacean (actually, a gastropod mollusk). What should I do? I wanted this shell. I really wanted this shell. Did I want it enough to commit murder? I held it in my hand and flipped it back and forth. Now you seem him; now you don’t. Yet I know he is inside. My mind traveled to that trite story about the child tossing the starfish into the water and responding, when someone challenged that she could never really make a difference, by saying “It will in this one’s life.” So my moral compass, which was feeling quite teeny at the time, whispered “Toss him back into the water . . . do it now! Make a difference.” I suppose you are tuned in to how this ended since I have pictures of the shell in this blog. I kept him and let him croak a sad lonely death on the front porch of the beach house. I have my shell. I also have my guilt. Why would this make me feel so sad and disappointed in myself? Is it any less moral to toss trash on the beach than it is to willfully take the life of something just because you want to possess another “thing?”
Each night, before going to sleep, I enjoy reading for 15-30 minutes. That night I picked up one of the 10 books I had brought with me for this tiny vacation. It was Eckhart Tolle’s book A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. What an unfortunate choice of reading material for someone who already was wallowing in her homicidal tendencies. This book encourages its readers to live their lives in each present moment and to create happiness for themselves without emphasizing material possessions.Tolle’s intent is to change the way human beings think, and he envisions a world population that is increasingly more humble, enlightened and pure. The book describes human dysfunction, selfishness, anxiety and the inhumanity we inflict on each other, as well as mankind’s failed attempts to find life meaning and purpose through material possessions and unhealthy relationships. It asserts that thoughts can have a powerful and beneficial “effect on the healing process,” and puts forth a concept of “evolutionary transformation of human consciousness” which prompts the reader to participate in “honest self-evaluation [that] can lead to positive change.”
Obsession with possessions? Who me? EEEEEKKKK! How can I bring about a “new earth” when I personally assaulted and murdered an innocent snail? Suddenly I felt an individual responsibility for things occurring in the Ukraine, the Middle East, and Ferguson, Missouri. How far a stretch is it from killing a mollusk to beheading a journalist? I say this seriously, since my actions really did disturb me.
Do I enjoy this little shell? Certainly, but not in the manner in which I thought. Rather than enjoy it for its inherent beauty as one of the many wonders of a gorgeous world, I keep it as a reminder of my Lesson #3. The earth is fragile; life is fragile. I must take a role in making this a better (if not “new”) earth. Some Christian leaders have criticized Tolle’s book, saying that it states that man controls his own destiny rather than God. In my particular fantasy about sitting with “my” God, I’m quite sure I would hear this:
Jane! Repeat this: If it is going to be, it is up to me.
My hope is that my footprint may take wings and I that I can quit stomping around in big old boots. I do want to make a difference. Is today the day? Yes . . . because if it is going to be, it IS up to me.