I like to watch people. I sit on park benches and in café chairs and I watch them walk by, their stories painted on their faces.
They look familiar. I feel like I might know them — perhaps, for a moment, we’re walking in the same direction. Couples holding hands and mothers with children. Business people and skaters and tourists. Men and women, young and old, black and white. Sometimes they catch my eye, but only for a glance. Their eyes slide from me to the bus schedule to their cellphone and I am forgotten. They’re all busy, all going somewhere, all distracted by the necessity of their own lives.
I am one of them. For a moment I am present, but how long until I’m walking with my back to the sun, my head full and my hands empty?
For a moment, I sit on a beach in Southwestern Australia, watching a fishing boat bob on the Indian Ocean. It’s a cliché perhaps, but a beautiful one — getting up early to see the sun rise, watching stingrays glide under the crystal water. I am happy. Not happy in a warm tea, soft bed kind of way — happy like a diver’s head breaking the surface after a million miles of darkness — happy in a way of significance.
The feeling took me by surprise because it was easy. I never thought happiness could be easy. I thought it had to be scheduled and sought and earned, but this was natural. This was real.
Wouldn’t it be funny if we could see ourselves in our happiest moments? See the girl in her natural habitat, sitting on the sand in a lumpy gray sweater. My toenail polish was chipped because I’d stubbed my toe on a rock and the bottom of my sweatpants was caked with sand. I sat with my face to the sun. I was real and I was really happy.
Jesus said something to me as I watched that sunrise — beauty is natural. It isn’t earned and it isn’t bought – it’s written into the image we all share. Each of us carries a piece of God with us and it’s up to us to live it or bury it.
If you want significance for your life, you have to acknowledge yourself. Not the photocopy self, but the natural part of you that deeply longs for road trips and skydiving and poetry. We don’t have every hair in place and our toenail polish is a bit chipped, but we’re happy and we’re beautiful, walking in communion with God and the beauty he subscribed to each of us.
We want more because we are meant for more, so stop chasing sunrises and start collecting moments of simple happiness. Line them up and look at them closely — can’t you see yourself? Maybe you’re wearing a lumpy sweater and your hair’s a bit messy, but it’s you, thank God it’s you – sitting with your face to the sun.
Stop what you’re doing. This is too important to wait. Collect your moments of significance, every one you can think of, and add them up until they look like your wildest dreams. And if your life doesn’t look like that picture you’ve drawn for yourself, then bend heaven and earth to make it so — your life is too significant to waste on good enough.
I want more from my life. I want more sunrises and more beaches. I want a million stingrays and seven thousand fishing boats. I want to live life, not just do life. I want significance and I will have it.