A few years ago I was on a beach in Florida. All was right with the world: the sun was shining, the waves were waving and the seagulls were staying away.
I took a handful of sand and examined it. For the first time, I noticed what sand actually was.
Instead of a monochrome grit, I saw a shock of colours and a multitude of shapes—a gift from the bodies of corals and the shells of crabs.
A handful of sand contained as much as the greatest mountain view. As William Blake put it so memorably:
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour
We look to the world for ever-greater excitement—the most stunning lake, the most exciting rollercoaster—all the while ignoring the excitement in front of us in the smallest of things.
Our heads are in the clouds when they should be on the ground while we ignore the beauty of the mundane for the exhilaration of the extraordinary.
That means we miss out on everyday heavens. But more than that, we miss out on being part of the world around us. We miss out on being home.
I’d like to think that if we saw the beauty of a handful of sand, we’d reconsider digging up the Earth to build a citadel of pleasure. We’d respect the world and our place in it.
Maybe then we could be satisfied with the wonder under our feet and stop crushing that wonder to satisfy our insatiable dissatisfaction.