One Sand-Skeeball-Sculpture at a Time

Building sandcastles and other sand structures is incredibly similar to being an entrepreneur. Everyone on the beach has the tools and resources to do so right in front of them, but few try for one reason or another. Perhaps some have never thought to try, they do not have the creative vision. Others might think it a cool idea, think back on times as a child, and say, “Well I will be shunned by society if I try; and I’m likely no good at it anyhow, so I won’t bother.”

Growing up my father loved to make his classic Skeeball game on the beach out of sand. I do not know where the idea sprang from to do so, but every summer on the beaches of Ocean City Maryland, we would make grand sand-sculptures: from mermaids, to hammerhead sharks, turtles, and the famous beach Skeeball. The sand was our canvas and we could create darn-near anything out of it; why not create a classic game to play? We would build a giant mound of sand, water it down, pack it out, use buckets to create perfect hole, and personally I loved to build in automatic ball returns for every hole.

Today we were at Big Carona Beach in Orange County, California and after a swim out to the buoys, body-surfing, some paddle-ball and a brief nap in the sun, it felt like time to add my creative touch to the sand for all of my fiancés cousin’s little children to enjoy. Skeeball.

It is crazy the level of doubt at first outset. So many lack the vision. Perhaps it is because I have been there before, made other versions. The fact remains; so many doubt what they cannot see. And the progression is always the same: doubt, disregard, curiosity, desire.

I tried to recruit a number of the kids, and full grown cousins, to help without avail. I did get one young-in to grab me one bucket of water, but that was enough for him. People walk by and you can tell the look on their faces says, “Why is that full-grown man piling up sand; weird. Keep walking.” The slow progression moves toward; “Wow, that is a big mound of sand,” people whisper, “that must have taken him a while.” Not too long, thanks. “What ‘cha makin?” come the next and more curious questions. “Skeeball, wanna help?” “Skeeball hunh? Cool (I think). No that’s alright, I’ll let you do your magic,” followed by a thought of, “Wow, he’s taking this too seriously.” Or “That’s kinda lame; no thanks I’d rather boogie-board. Have fun playing in the sand though (you grown-as man).” I was probably done in 20-minutes or less, though it definitely took longer do it by myself than when I was a kid with my father, brother, sister and cousins helping.

But once you finish, everyone wants to gather around and play the game. “Wow, can I play?” “It’s my turn, give me the ball.” “This is awesome!” And finally those who ignored the call build upon that original vision and make it better once you’ve created it.

The joy in these kids faces as they played the game time and time again was fantastic. The laughs and excitement as they ran around the back to grab the ball they overthrew is that unexpected value and feeling of success that many search for their whole life-through. This value of creating for others out of seemingly nothing is one thing I cherish most in life.

Success is not eminent in the sand; there are many ways for the vision to fall off track. Perhaps you run out of time. Maybe you don’t have great vision at the outset and build it poorly; or make it in haste leaving people to understand the vision but think, “Wow this really had potential, but just isn’t that cool.” Or you could be entirely unlucky and have a wave (or mischievous child) come knock your masterpiece to the ground before completion; but perhaps you could have planned better for this.

At the end of the day, sand will return to sand: bound to gravity and mulled around by the ebbing sea. But for a time, it is possible to build a grand work: as simple or complex as you like. For a time you can enjoy what you have created out of the world’s canvas. For a while you can create value that is life and enjoyment thereof. But understand that in time all will be washed away to not but memories of what once was.

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