When I was down beside the sea
A wooden spade they gave to me
To dig the sandy shore.
Robert Louis Stevenson, At the Sea-Side
A Child’s Garden of Verses

There is nothing quite like playing alone. To watch it is a privilege. Indeed, in watching one might even participate in the reality. Yet we must tread lightly so as not to disturb it.

Human persons are not made to be alone; but then again, the ability to be alone is somehow essential. We learn something about life. We learn simply to be, and to live, and then ultimately, to live together. One who really knows how to be alone is most capable of being together. It is a paradox.

Some children are more inclined toward it than others. It cannot be forced. But it can be encouraged and cultivated. In them, and in us. Being in a good place, at a good time, perhaps with a simple instrument of some sort—such as a shovel, on the beach.

Sometimes the most important things are right before our eyes, and still within our reach. We can simply reach toward them and take them in hand, time and again.

R.L Stevenson (1850-1894) is the great Scottish author of Treasure Island, Kidnapped, A Child’s Garden of Verses, and other classics.

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