There was a young man who lived by the sea. He had been born blind, but dreamed to open his eyes and see the ocean for himself. He could touch it, smell it and hear it, but it felt incomplete, not being able to see it. He spent year after year, hearing others speak of its beauty and magnificence. Every day he sat on the beach and asked people passing by to describe how it looked to them, trying to envision it in his minds eye. He lived on the shoreline and fell asleep each night listening to the waves.
Every day and every night he prayed for sight. He wanted nothing more than to be able to see the ocean for himself. "For what good is the ocean if I cannot see it?" He often thought to himself. His days were spent in longing and he felt discontent. He constantly prayed for a miracle, waiting for years for his wish to be granted, until one day it was. He met a women who told him of a healer who could give him his sight. Elated, he left immediately to go to her, but she lived quite some distance away.
He sold all of his belongings and his home to afford the travel to where she resided in the desert to the east. After a long and strenuous journey, he arrived, and to his delight she was indeed able to give him sight. For the first time in his life he could see the world around him and all of its wonder. He was enamored by the trees, the sky, the birds and the flowers. He felt so grateful that now there was light and clarity, where before all he had known was darkness.
But as he looked around, he realized there was no ocean within miles of this place. Not even a lake. He deflated as he realized he had spent his last dime on the journey to this healer, that now he had no way to return home. He had sold his home and had no family to call for, so he had nothing to return to. He decided to stay and work for as long as it took to save for a trip back home. But this took many years. And every day he would ask the people he met if they had ever seen the ocean.
He would listen to their tales of its beauty in the sun and its ferocity in a storm, of how it looked on serene days with little wind, of how it looked in the tropics where the water was shades of turquoise. He continued his days away, dreaming of the ocean as he once had done. But now he thought "What good is sight if I still cannot see the ocean?" His days were still filled with longing and discontentment. For now while he could see the birds and the sky and the flowers, he could not even hear the ocean.
He realized how dearly he missed the sound of the waves lulling him to sleep at night. How he missed the coolness of the water, gently gliding over his feet as he stood on the shore. He traveled all this way to get closer to the ocean, when now he felt he lacked even more than before. Every day and every night he prayed for a way to return home to his beloved sea. Grief crippled and consumed him as he focused on what he had lost. Not often remembering that he now had what he had prayed for for so long, his eyesight.
Years and years passed, and his dream of returning felt like it was getting further and further from reach. He married, had children and built a life far from the ocean. Until one day, one day his wife surprised him with a trip back out west to his homeland, she had been saving for years as well. But by now, he had grown old and gray, and his eyesight was quite poor. When they arrived, he felt breathless staring at the beauty of the ocean, that he had waited so, so long to see. He finally felt content and at peace with knowing he had realized his dream. But his body was older and frail, and he could not walk down on the sand as he had in his youth. So while he could admire from afar, he no longer could feel the water graze his feet. "What good is the ocean nearby if I can't feel it's touch on my skin?" He thought grumpily.
That night as they slept, he passed away peacefully and left his body to return home with the angels. As they were leaving, he asked to stop by at the ocean, for he was longing to see it with more clarity. He sat on the beach beside his guardian angels, staring out at the expansive beauty of the sea. As they were sitting there, they asked him what he had learned this time around. With a deep breath, he smiled and said, "Don't take things for granted. We always have something to love, something to be grateful for. We always have something we will miss when its gone, no matter how big or small.
I had wanted to see, but once I could, I no longer could smell, hear or feel the ocean near me. I had not enjoyed those gifts while I had them available to me. Then all I wanted for so long was to leave the desert, that I didn't enjoy moments with my family in the new home I created the way I could have. I didn't feel grateful for the gift of my sight, because I didn't see what I had wanted to see. Then once I returned back home to the seaside, I forgot to be grateful for my wife standing next to me, for those were my last moments by her side. I may not have been able to feel the water on my skin, but I could have been holding her hand, for that was a great enough gift on its own.
I see now everything had its time and its place, and throughout my life, I received everything I prayed for, just not at one time. This made me forget to see what was always right in front of me, and instead I wasted years always wanting something I did not have." The man smiled at the ocean now, coming home to this truth. Knowing that next time he would hold dear in his heart, the wisdom of being grateful for right where you are.
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