I believe in long walks on the beach

Ever since I was a little girl, I have been surrounded by water — to be more precise, the ocean. Whether it was walking barefoot along the beach, making sandcastles on the shore or heading 30 miles off the coast for a deep-sea fishing adventure, the beach has always been my home; it is a place where I have always been happy. But the beach is much more than my haven, it is an extraordinary place where I have not only felt happy and secure but also where I have learned some very important life lessons.

When I was younger, I would walk down the beach and collect seashells, sand dollars and dead sea urchins — pretty much anything I could find. By the end of my childhood, I had probably collected thousands of seashells and other specimens. I loved everything about the ocean. The ocean was my perfect world. As a child, I loved to run to the beach to see what I could find, but now when I walk by the shoreline I rarely pick up these marine treasures. I simply just walk on by.

As I grew up, my love for the ocean grew stronger, but not in the same way I loved it as a kid. I realized there is more to the ocean and its shoreline than what meets the eye; our life is a lot like walking on the shoreline. We sometimes pass through life without seeing its beauty. We go on day by day and forget to have gratitude for the simple yet wonderful things that make us happy. I have found that as we grow older, we expect bigger and better while forgetting that the little things are the most valuable.

The seashells, sand dollars, starfish and sea creatures you may find at the edge of the shoreline are a part of one of the most beautiful and productive ecosystems on the planet. Just like the ocean, our life is big, full of countless beautiful yet seeming insignificant moments: the smile of a child, the beauty of a flower, the hug of a loved one or a breathtaking sunset. We can’t live our lives without expressing gratitude and love for the small things that constitute our lives, like kisses on the forehead from our moms, home cooked meals and hearing your little cousins giggle. All these little things create something bigger and better: a good life.

The ocean not only taught me to have gratitude for the small things, but also inspired me to do bigger and better things in my life. The day before I left to return to Baylor University for the spring semester of my freshman year, I woke up early, made coffee and drove to the beach to watch the sunrise. I sat by the water admiring it — I watched the sun glistening in the horizon as it made its way to brighten the day and the world started to wake. I took a walk along the water, feeling the cold sand between my toes, watching the waves wash my tracks away as I continued along the shoreline. Then it dawned on me: One cannot live life like you’d walk on the beach because you’d be washed away and never be remembered. One should live life with a purpose in order to leave a mark on this world. Whether it is something as small as helping a stranger or as big as establishing a nonprofit organization, both can leave a permanent imprint on the hearts of others.

That is why I believe in barefoot walks on the beach, because it teaches you to love the little things and serves as an inspiration to leave a mark on this world.