This is essentially everything I thought I wanted from a beach day, But this past weekend I learned that there was much more to be had.
My friend and I set up our little spot, and the beach was quite crowded. We could overhear and ignore the many conversations being held around us. The waves were quite strong and pulled me down time and again. And soon they were soaking everyone on the shore, bursting up unexpectedly and hard.
Byron, my dear friend and beach companion, pointed to a lump of sand near us and said “it seems like there is a message from the past in this, Like maybe this is where the water comes up to.”
About 20 minutes later, I heard some of the folks behind us say, “let’s build a seawall so we won’t get soaked.” I turned around and said, “let’s build it together in front of all of us!”
Suddenly, I was delighted and surprised when about 15 people joined in, all strangers. Some of us used our legs to kick down into the ground while others built sand towers.
An older gentleman came over. “I’m from Holland and we make three walls,”he said. “The wake, the sleeper and the dreamer, to mitigate the different levels of impact.” His friend said, “we will help.”
For the rest of the afternoon, people built and rebuilt, perfected and altered, and added to the seawall. Two teens reexamined it after every hit to point out where we needed to build.
A construction worker helped us design where we should build it. We worked in shifts that were self selected. We guarded it to make sure people didn’t destroy it. We shared food and drink. And every time a wave hit it and it worked, we stood up and cheered.
I had never felt so satisfied by labor before, and I could tell we all did. It immediately gratifying. Our payment was contributing to something that benefitted all.
Byron and I sat and talked about it for a while. We were impressed that no one decided they were “in charge” or knew best. We collaborated and were all equal. We shared the fruits of our labor, and because of that we were motivated to work.
I thought of the contrast I have felt with paid jobs, where people sometimes micromanage or get on a power trip, limit participation until no one wants to work. It made me realize that labor itself is rewarding, it’s the process under which we work that can make or break our motivation.