A few days ago I visited my favorite beach in the British Virgin Islands, Loblolly, on the tiny island of Anegada. Only 12 miles long and less than 25′ in elevation, Anegada has less than 200 residents. A handful of sailors brave the tricky entrance across miles of coral reefs to visit Anegada. I love it for the simplicity and connection I feel from the sheer beauty and the solitude. We set out to play on my favorite beach, Loblolly.
This visit was no different, except for an invitation from Charlie, the bartender at the little beach bar, The Big Bamboo. Charlie pointed out the signs all over the exterior of his bar and invited me to create one. First of all, there were hundreds of signs- literally- and I never “saw” them. They were right in front of my eyes yet I never said, “Gee, I wonder who made these and perhaps I should make one too!”, even though the signs were right in front of me. I was always focused on getting to the beach and have always walked right by the bar.
Charlie told me to go find a piece of wood and handed me a magnifying glass. He showed me on a small sample piece, how just focusing the concentrated beam of sunlight would burn the wood, enabling me to write whatever message I chose to create. Holding the magnifying glass at the right angle would create a tiny flame and the resulting small plume of smoke and allow me to write a message on the wood.
It took me nearly an hour to find the right piece of wood, which had been washed up on the beach. Then I began the process of burning the letters into the wood to create a permanent mark. The process required a great deal on concentration, for if you changed the focus on the sun’s rays by moving the glass or changing the angle, it would burn the wood where I didn’t want it to write. Daydreaming wasn’t an option for it left a permanent mark in the wrong place.
I decided to write “InspireMeToday.com May 2010” on my sign.
Just as I got started a cloud blotted out the rays of the sun, diminishing the effectiveness of my “work”. I had to be patient and wait until the cloud moved for only the concentrated, focused rays of the sun were strong enough to create the burn on the wood.
I couldn’t help but see the parallel between my efforts and life. How many times have I been oblivious to the signs all around me? How many times have I lost focus? How many times have I lost patience when a cloud of life blocked my energy? Creating this physical sign was a tangible exercise in the power of focus. Without having patience it wouldn’t work. Without focusing the energy of the sun into one spot it wouldn’t work. Without paying attention with continual focus, it wouldn’t work.
This entire experience made me wonder, how many other “signs” are there in my life that I’m ignoring? Where am I losing focus and writing the wrong message? The sun is very powerful, but without focus, even the sun couldn’t burn a message into the wood. Like the sun, what opportunities am I missing due to lack of focus?
I’m taking the metaphorical magnifying glass to my life and examining where I’m putting my energy and focus, and making sure it’s on the things that matter most. With concentrated focus, anything is possible- even leaving a permanent mark on the world…. in this case in the form of a sign, hanging at a little beach bar on a tiny island in the Caribbean.
If you ever get to Loblolly, look for the InspireMeToday.com sign and perhaps you’ll see where I left my mark. :)