A lot of things may happen to me in my life, but some just aren’t worth explaining or holding on to.
A week in Cape Cod is quite an exception.
And it’s not the size or extent of the event that matters … it’s the quality that leaves an impression.
The beach is semi-crowded, but the people are hardly noticeable with all the serenity going on around me.
As I write this, seagulls are pleasantly squawking overhead as they circle Saquatucket Harbor, just off the coast of Hardings Beach in Chatham, Massachusetts.
Waves gently crash against the shoreline and the wind ruffles the umbrella that provides just a touch of protection and relief from the blazing sun. It’s been a cloudy morning but blue skies can be seen in the distance.
If I look to the left, I see nothing but clear blue water for miles. Out in front of me are scattered sail boats and standing paddleboarders drifting slowly with the wind. And off in the distance to my right sit a row of lake houses lining a cove, overlooking the massive body of water.
In a perfect world, we’d own one of those houses and spend our summers retiring to the Cape for fun in the sun and some R&R on the beaches and the water.
It’s a dream we’ve talked about for years, and although a house in Cape Cod is not likely in the cards, a beach house in Wisconsin or Michigan near our home in Illinois is very much a possibility.
What makes a lake house such a dream?
Part of the attraction is the beauty and the serenity, for sure. Who wouldn’t like looking outside their windows at a real-life screensaver? Who wouldn’t enjoy catching rays of sunshine, feeling a warm summer’s breeze on their skin, standing in one of God’s majestic oceans — or other bodies of water — and falling asleep to the sound of water sweeping the shoreline?
More than what pleases the five senses, the idea of leaving the hustle and bustle, the speed and the grind of one’s daily life and escaping to a much simpler way of life is about as appealing as it gets.
Just hours ago I had my three-month old boy in my arms wading in the shallows and dipping his feet in the water. I had my beautiful wife sunbathing next to me with family surrounding us, reading books and listening to music. We had a picnic on the beach and we sat and enjoyed our surroundings.
What I did not endure in those peaceful moments was the stress brought on by lunatic drivers, clueless and discourteous passersby, self-absorbed shoppers, and many other of life’s cornucopia of unpleasant social interactions. I wasn’t living by a schedule with places to go and things to do. I was not answering emails and coding websites.
Oh, I love my job — make no mistake about that. But it doesn’t hold a candle to the finer things in life such as sitting my boy on my lap and feeding him a bottle. Or watching my wife walk the shoreline in front of a vast, beautiful seascape.
This is what vacation is. And some will see the ocean as half-empty and say that once the trip is over, it’s back to the daily rigors, the trials and tribulations, the grind and the rat race to which we’re all enslaved.
I choose to see an end to the means, a long-term goal posing as a framed masterpiece, hanging on the wall inside my brain. Life has its ups and downs, its trivial moments and momentous occasions. I choose to enjoy what passes my way while also keeping an eye toward the future. A future with rippling waters, warm sandy beaches, a bright sunny sky and the ambiance created by God that we so often miss due to our short attention spans, which are diverted by life’s menial problems.
As I sit here with sun-baked skin and my son by my side, I dream of a day when he appreciates the finer things in life, finds contentment in the simple things and is grateful for all the gifts that God has given him. Then I will know for sure that my wife and I have done right by him.
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.1 Timothy 6:6-7 (NIV)