I sat on the beach staring into the ocean. The ocean I had grown to love, the one that had become the place to rejuvenate summer after summer. A place to be with my family, lie in the sun, jump in the cold waves and get away from this quick moving thing we called ‘life’. It was what I grew up to believe was the ulitmate paradise…
I stared deep into the water, as the waves crashed upon themselves, forcing me into the deepest, most peaceful state and I inhaled. The last blissful day of summer had come and no matter what I did, was going fast. I tried to memorize the feeling of the sea air, and the way my heart barely needed to pound, praying that if I could hold onto it tightly, I could recapture it at any time. Times when I might need it the most…like when I worried, about my boys being safe, or my parents being healthy, or when the twisting of the daily grind pulled me into a frenzy, making me forget all about how grateful I was to have such an amazing life. For the times when others’ drama seemed almost like my own and for those days, when I just wasn’t sure if I could make it.
I inhaled again, thinking perhaps a little prayer might do or a plea to the universe for an easy year. But even that seemed like too large of a request. I mean, surely I was aware that to wish for an easy year was in fact missing the point of life to begin with.
I glanced at my watch to notice that we were down to our last 10 minutes of summer and inhaled one last time, hoping for some sort of sign. As I looked up again, the flag caught my eye. The giant yellow, flowing in the wind flag that had been in front of my face for an hour, was now blowing as if the only thing alive on the beach. As the ocean seemed to grow still, the sound of the flag rippled loudly in time with the breeze.
Why? Why now was that all I could see and hear? Where was it before? And why was it yellow? I looked again out to the ocean and noticed the waves were rough and only a few swimmers remained. And then it ocurred to me: The yellow flag. The one that tells us to proceed with caution. The one that says, you can go, just watch your step. Proceed with care. The one that says, slow down, pause, take a breathe, be mindful of what is around you. The one that says, you have arrived, again, now make sure you don’t miss it while you are here.
The yellow flag was all I needed on that final day of summer and was just the perfect reminder for all of us every day. Slow down. Enjoy whatever is here and now and know that it is all temporary. If things are perfect, inhale deeply and be present. If everything seems challenging, slow down even more. Most importantly, remember to be still enough to look up and see what lies what in front of you, so that someone doesn’t have to ask, “Did you see the yellow flag?”