Last summer, a friend and I spent hours lying in the sun at my favorite little creek spot.
It was the only sandy part along the water with just enough space for our bodies to sprawl out on the soft ground to soak in the heat.
We goofed around all day, freezing our asses off in the ice-cold water just to feel the sun lick it off our bodies. Just me, him, the sun, and the rushing water beside us. Nothing else mattered.
When my busy mind could no longer “do nothing” in the sun, I’d drag my fingers along the bottom of the creek to see what kind of treasures I could pull out. Mossy green, sandstone orange, crystal clear, and vibrant pink rocks rested in my hands. I’d admire each rock closely and then I’d throw them at the large boulder that sat in front of us, just to see the colors explode in the air.
The small rocks wouldn’t shatter. Staying seated in one spot, I searched for the bigger rocks around me. Eventually, the rocks I needed started to run out and I could only see the glimmering pieces of the rocks not big enough to smash. Suddenly, bored with no more rocks to shatter, I dug my fidgety fingers deep into the sand beneath me, accidentally discovering a big brown rock begging to be broken into two.
All along, just below the surface, I was surrounded by all the rocks I needed; my eyes just couldn’t see them. And in that moment, I realized that just because we can’t see what we need, that doesn’t mean it’s not there. Sometimes, we just have to dig a little deeper, try a little harder, do something different, or at the very least, believe.
I dug around the sand, found what I needed, and I was pleased. It was that simple.
And now, when I’m not receiving or seeing what I need, I think about those rocks. I remember that everything I need is around me; I just have to be willing to put in the work to receive it.
Sometimes, this looks like properly communicating my needs. I’ve always had a hard time speaking up. As a result, this would create resentment in my relationships because I, for some reason, was expecting them to just know what I needed. But, of course, no matter how well someone knows us, they can’t read our minds. If we want to receive what we need, it’s our duty to tell them. And perhaps, the thing we thought we couldn’t receive from our partner was ready to be given all along; they just didn’t know how to give it. Speak up. Tell them how. It will make all the difference.
Other times, this simply looks like remembering that I have everything I need. Sometimes, when we feel anxious, it can feel like the world is closing in on us and there’s nothing we can do about it. Feeling anxious is overwhelming. And when we’re overwhelmed, doing anything is hard. I get it. But in these moments, again, I think about those rocks and I repeat, “I have everything I need.” I return to this affirmation and I remember the tools I always have access to.
When we’re feeling big emotions, remember that we have the ability to move through them, but most of the time, it requires us to put in work. Breathe. Move. Get outside. Hug a tree. Call a friend. Journal. Eat. Drink water. Return to the basics. Remember the tools you always have.
This metaphor applies to so much in life. Just like the saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” we have to recognize that there is always so much more beyond the surface. Getting to know who a person is takes time. Inevitability, we judge. And I’m not here to say that judging is right or wrong, I’m here as a reminder that the possibilities of who someone is are endless. Why waste our energy believing what might not even be true?
We never know what lies beyond the surface. If you want to know, dig deeper. If you choose not to put in the work, don’t jump to conclusions.
Just because we can’t see the rocks we need, that doesn’t mean they’re not there waiting for us to discover them.
When we look beyond the surface, we find the truth. We discover that our partners just might be more capable of meeting our needs than we believed. We learn that we always have the ability to move through our tough emotions. And we realize that people and life and everything are a little more nuanced than we thought.
Just keep digging.