I stand on the beach watching a child kneel down building with their hands mounds of sand like towers overlooking the ocean. They build, she builds three, four piles of sand, really just rock worn down over years. For a moment they stand like permanent majestic pieces of a legacy the child is still creating. And then the tide comes closer, edging towards the towers as the earth and moon shift in their positioning to each other. Soon the tide will wash away any evidence of the towers, the child’s labor no longer visible to beach-going passerby. What will be left when the tide topples the towers?

The child rests and ventures into the cold shock of ocean, letting it cleanse and renew the body, bringing new energy where there was attachment to the outcome of their hands. The tide comes. The towers wash imperceptibly away.

The child builds again. Ages. Creating something beautiful for the moment. Rests in a nearby shelter made from twigs and tree fronds gathered from a nearby patch of woods. And watches as the tide comes to wash away the product of their days.

People come and go. The child becomes a grown human, doing the things of a human. Sometimes people stay for a long time, others just to enjoy one sunset. But the girl has made her home here in this little patch of beach and soil come together in soulful harmony, and this is where she will stay. The waves do not scare her as they did when she was young. She knows how to navigate the turmoil and where to call for help; she has enough to eat and a warm shelter. She needs for naught — and her purpose is to be here tending this earth, showing the way of impermanence to the next children that pass by.

As the observer, I ask: what is left? What is lost?