Why Relationships are like Temporary Sandcastles before the Tide of Life

Tonight, I write in a stream-of-consciousness style.

This means I haven’t outlined and pre-planned this article as I have in the vast majority of other articles on this site. Tonight I’d like to talk about people. I suspect that even if I were far-removed from this age of never-ending electric light and perpetual connectivity, I would be writing something similar to this with a quill pen beneath a lit candle. But I think I’ll use this backlit keyboard while I have it. 😉

People Come in Waves

It has been said that the quality of your life can only be as good as the quality of your relationships. There’s the relationship between you and others; and, perhaps most importantly, your relationship with yourself.

Having healthy, mutually-beneficial relationships is certainly conducive in creating a happy life. (That’s not to say it’s a requirement for everyone though. There are many people, such as hermits still living today, that claim to be quite happy in solitude, so as the ancient saying goes: to each his own.) However, in my experience most people require positive interpersonal relationship to be content, and this is actually a wonderful design because it encourages exposure to new ideas and provides a completely new lens for a person to see themselves through. In fact, relationships are the biggest catalyst for growth in most people’s lives.

Human Predilection to Relationships

Because of this predilection to forming relationships, whether they be friendships, intimate relationships, or casual in nature, people also tend to become attached and acclimated to these types of conditions. But will any of these relationships truly survive on the physical plane?

Of course not! Everything your eyes can see is temporary… including your eyes, actually, but try not to think about that too much. That’s out of your hands.

Instead, consider that the nature of your existence is temporary, and none of your relationships will survive death, at least not in their current form. And if you are a frequent traveller, you have probably experienced an accelerated version of this, making fast friends, perhaps even having some intense experiences, and knowing that you will not be there for long.

For such travellers, it’s easy for them to see that relationships come in waves. They are forever in flux, forever in change, and they recognize that holding onto something tightly is like trying to stop the tide from coming in and destroying your lovely little sandcastle. But the sandcastle was not made to remain in that form, just as any relationship was not made to remain static. Much like any natural phenomena, a human relationship either builds, crumbles, or gradually wears away from neglect. There are no other options.

A Sandcastle Before the Tide

Of course, the foundations of these ideas are not new, in fact they are quite old. So only take this as a reminder that becoming attached to a single person, or a set of people, is a completely natural reaction; but always remember that you are in the midst of a sandcastle before the tide. Enjoy the time while it lasts, but never place your happiness and validation into the hands of others. I’ve learned this personally time and again. To side-step much suffering, it is helpful to let seasons pass in their own time, and to relish in the changes when they come, knowing that the next stage will shape you into an even stronger and more compassionate person than you are now.

Though it’s not a lesson that comes easily or quickly, when you learn to do that, joy will follow you through all your journeys.

10 bits on Why Relationships are like Temporary Sandcastles before the Tide of Life

  1. One of the oldest sayings is at death you can measure the character of a man by knowing those that were his friends. Kind of goes along with what you are saying about relationships.

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  3. I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

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  5. I like your analogy. There are certainly some hermits living in this world. But like you said, we all need happy relationships to be content.

  6. I agree with your thoughts that relationships are key in one’s life. You also brought it out very clearly how one should not be overdependent on another just because they are in a relationship.
    Relationships really bring about changes now and then in life.

  7. Gideon,

    I’m glad you found the article useful. How we relate to others is probably the single most powerful area of influence in our lives.

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