I watched my daughter dig the hole on the beach right in front of me, intent with her pail and shovel, as if she'd been charged with digging to China. So it wasn't like, after she'd abandoned the project and flitted off to something more interesting, I didn't know the hole was there. Nevertheless, when I stood up to walk to the ocean, I stepped right into the hole, lurching forward and nearly falling, had I not reached out and caught myself. I laughed it off, feeling stupid for stepping into a hole I knew was there. Surely I was the only person on the planet who would do something that dumb.
And yet, through the course of the day, every single one of us-- including my daughter who dug the hole-- stepped into it and fell or nearly fell. It became a joke: how could we all keep stepping into this hole that we knew was there? We laughed at ourselves, but I started thinking how like life that is.
There are holes in the sand for all of us, metaphorically speaking. Things we know are there, yet find ourselves stepping into, sometimes causing us to fall, or almost fall, or just feel plenty stupid for not knowing better. Not doing better. I thought about what those holes in the sand are for me: taking to heart bad reviews on my books, beating myself up about my weight, holding myself to unrealistic expectations, talking with people about stuff that's none of my business, eating junk food, having to have the last word, always wanting to be right even at the expense of relationship. It's all stuff I've worked on and worked on, yet still find myself struggling with.
I don't have some wise or pithy moral to this story, some one-size-fits-all solution, a way to fill the holes. I think that holes in the sand are just part of this earthly experience, the "trouble" part of Jesus' "in this world you will have trouble" warning, the frustrating cycle of being human. It makes me think of my daughter's graduation the other night, when the sixth year senior crossed the stage and the 400 other kids in his class stood up and cheered for him. Eventually, he graduated. It took him a lot of attempts, but he eventually got it right. He dodged the holes and made it all the way across the stage, which is what we're all just trying to do.