Today someone broke a small statue of mine. I’m not much of a knick-knack gal, but this one came from Greece. Its value was mainly sentimental, a relic of a wonder-filled trip with people I love. It certainly wasn’t expensive. Well, not unless you count the plane ticket to Barcelona and the cost of cruising through the Mediterranean.
The accidental vandal was contrite, willing to buy me a new miniature Parthenon. Obviously that won’t work. But does it really matter? The main reason I purchased the trinket was to remind me of our trip. We have doohickeys and photos enough for that. And elusive, shifting memories.
I see a crowd of umbrellas and I’m transported to Rome, where we drowned in torrential rains in the Coliseum. The musty odor of cool cement sends me to the soaring columns and crenellated arches of Athens. A blast of hot, gritty wind, and I’m in Cairo, watching sun set right over the pyramids.
Souvenirs may not last. Memories fade. But such is the way of this world. If you’ve ever built a sand castle anywhere near the sea, you know what I mean. You could spend hours constructing an architectural marvel. Ultimately, the tide washes it away. Waves pound even the sturdiest shells into tiny bits. Over time, the ocean carves coastlines, changing our maps. But this changeableness does not detract from its beauty.
Are we wise to build sand castles, only to see them swept away? What about flowers? Is it practical to plant them only to have them wither in winter? And the memories we build, with our loved ones—when the trinkets break and the details blur in our minds, does their worth cease? Of course not. There is intrinsic value in the actions we take to create beauty in our lives, even after those beauties fade. So I build. I create. Even as weeds try to overrun me and sometimes succeed.