While on vacation, I stayed by the shore making sand castles with my son. The transparent water brushing our skin, the soft sand on our feet and the shade of a palm tree over us. Next to us, a british man, his fit body adorned with tattoos, was building sand castles with his daughters. We had not crossed words but they seem like a nice, loving family. Suddenly a flapping sound called our attention. About eight feet away from us and to the left of the British family there was a ten-inch white fish with blue stripes that had been (apparently miraculously) being brought out of the water by the mild waves. The fish was flipping and struggling in the sand. The British man used every inch of his fit body to run towards the fish. In the meantime, a local man who worked at the kayak rentals was running towards the fish from the opposite direction. The local man gets to the fish a few seconds before and the British man is obviously relieved. However, the man grabbed the fish and quickly ran away. The British man opened his arms in disbelief and turned to me. “Why did he do that?” he says with a sweet voice. I didn’t know. The truth was that I was kind of shocked as well. When I first saw the fish out of the water I felt bad for it, seeing it ran out of air. The British man repeated the question and shook his head. Suddenly a colleague of the “fish-stealer” was looking at us with a smile on his face. The British guy repeated the question. The man responded with a huge grin on his face, “he was going to make himself a fish sandwich for lunch.”
The British man looked sad and I was thinking the whole scene looked kind of funny. There is no doubt that everybody approaches every situation from a place that is very personal. Some people want to help, others want to fill a physical need. Some see the value of their altruistic nature and others in seizing the opportunities that life freely presents.
A fish that is brought to shore is found by a hungry man. Is that synchronicity? A man whose only present worry is to build a sand castle that makes his daughters happy sees a a fish that is drafted to his feet and the savior in him takes over. Sometimes, we have to choose what to do with the unexpected situations that appear in front of us. Usually, there is no wrong or right answer, only choices. However, there is no doubt that if we want to take action, sometimes it is useful to be the fastest runner because opportunities tend to have a fleeting window of success.
When I sat down on the beach chair later I saw the British man retelling the story to his family. He was saying how he tried to be a hero although he failed. Then I thought about the local man enjoying his fried fish in between two pieces of bread, sauce dripping on the sides and I smiled. I imagined the story he would be sharing with his friends about how a fish jumped out of the water and practically onto his plate.
I smiled and I thought on how many times I have been like each of the two men. Many other times I have been like the fish as well. And occasionally, I have discovered that when we relax and pay attention to the world around us, life throws coins of wisdom that look like comedy scenes and some time taste like fried fish by the beach.