I live within a mile of Lake Michigan now, and it is a very pleasant lake. But it always strikes me, somehow, as being…well, almost subdued compared to the majesty of Lake Superior, only 17 miles from my former home in northern Wisconsin. I used to love spending hours walking along its deserted beaches, where you can sometimes go for literally hours without seeing another human being.
The first impression I always got, when standing on the shore within a few feet of the water on a bright summer day, was of blue: the incredibly intense blue sky dotted with cotton-ball clouds. Beneath the blue of the sky, the darker blue of the water, flecked with whitecaps and the white wings of wave-skimming seagulls and an occasional white triangle of a passing sailboat. And every now and then, where the sky met the water, I would see the small dark smudge of smoke from a cargo ship far off over the horizon.
But the shore held its own, more immediate fascination. Superior is not a sandy-shored lake, for the most part. It is more pebbles and small rocks of every shape, size, and color, almost all rounded or smoothed from countless years/centuries/aeons of shifting against and around one another. I wondered, if they could think and speak, what they would talk of.
Of course I was never able to walk along the shore without returning home with pockets laden with pebble-treasure picked up along my walk. Agates, conglomerates, striped, marbled, some with fascinating holes drilled into and sometimes through them. Had a large wave come along and swept me out into the depths of the lake I would surely have drowned, weighted down as I was. I still have a few jars of Lake Superior stones kept in water-filled jars because water brings out their color.
And each pebble, each stone, I passed, seen or unseen, was different from the millions upon millions around it. Even those with nothing to immediately draw the eye were unique…much like people. Like pebbles, most people are ordinary, indistinguishable, at first glance, from the millions around them. And like the pebbles, many are attractive, a few are beautiful, and some are nearly breathtaking. It is, of course, the most beautiful that get picked up and taken home.
There are more pebbles along a quarter-mile of Lake Superior beach than there are all the people who have ever lived since the dawn of time.
And for every pebble on all the beaches of the world, there are a million grains of sand.
And yet there are more stars in the sky than there are grains of sand on all the beaches and all the deserts on the earth.
I think about that as I, one man, unique among all others, wander along the beach under the vast blue sky and bend down to pick up one more shiny pebble.
This blog is from Dorien's ebook of blogs, Short Circuits, available from UntreedReads.com and Amazon.com; it's also available as an audio book from Amazon/Audible.com: