Friday, December 02, 2005

You Are What You Build

A sandcastle story...

Somewhere on the other side of the lake we built our castles in the sand. There were four of us. We built more than we knew. We created memories, stories and a stronger bond of friendship than we had ever experienced prior to that weekend.

We had been friends, good friends, for several years. But that summer and the three days we spent at Mike’s grandparents beach house was a time when we really connected.

Fresh from high school graduation we were all looking forward to the fall and starting new chapters in our lives. We thought we were more sophisticated as high school graduates. In reality we were just a few kids who didn’t know squat. We did childish things. We didn’t know it at the time, but at least one of those childish acts we all participated in that weekend showed us who we really were. If only we could see it then.

As Ed and I caught some rays on the beach, Mike floated in an inner tube out on the lake. Enio was the restless one. With too much pent up energy to relax he started building a sandcastle. As he worked relentlessly on his masterpiece, Ed, Mike and I began to take notice. That looked like fun. We started to build our own right along side Enio’s.

First Mike, then Ed and finally I joined the activity. We were building with childlike delight. There were explanations, calculations, bragging and teasing on what was being built. There was frustration when the sand wouldn’t stick. There were times when I swear I saw tears when a wall came tumbling down. We were having the best time. It was fun.

Later that evening as the sun began to set across the lake behind the Chicago skyline, we built a fire on the beach. The plan was to spend the night sleeping on the beach around the fire. The fire was more than a source of heat and light for us that night. It was a time and a place for us to talk to each other about anything. With the light of the fire to protect us nothing was held back. It was what we all wanted. We needed a good talk before the foursome headed for opposite directions in the fall. It was a night for reflection. We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows for dinner.

We talked about everything. The whole time a few feet away, in the darkness sat the sandcastles we had built earlier in the day. I couldn’t stop thinking about them and what they represented.

Enio had begun to build because he was bored. It was something to do. It was a way to keep busy. As he continued to work he became more and more determined to make it the ultimate castle. It was going to be perfect. It was his dream and his goal that day.

He worked slowly and meticulously on one wall of the castle at time. No detail was to be overlooked. He spent too much time on the details. The longer he spent on one wall the less time he had to finish the rest of the castle. More than once a completed wall fell down much to his frustration. He had to start all over again and again.

Enio had worked on his castle all day long. It got too dark to work before he was able to complete it. The part of the castle that was completed was perfect. It was incomplete yet perfect for Enio. It didn’t really matter to him that it was not finished. It was more about enjoying himself and having fun with the creative process.

Mike took the opposite approach. He built up a rather modest pile of sand, smoothed it out, stuck a stick in the top for a flag and finished it off with a very simple moat all around his creation. Within minutes of starting he had finished and headed back into the water to float.

Ed’s was all about thinking big. He didn’t just make a sandcastle. He made a resort complete with ski slopes, guest houses, ponds, ice skating rinks, golf course and well defined road and path systems.

I didn’t build a sandcastle. Instead I spent my time helping the others. Mike’s was so simple and quick that he didn’t need any help. Enio wouldn’t listen to my suggestion about building the basic structure first and then adding the detailed touches, so I went over to Ed’s. He was the architect and I became his idea man. We developed opportunities for the resort to make money. We created events and features to keep guests at the resort as long as possible. I helped Ed make it fun. And it was.

Flash forward eighteen years.

Enio is a writer living in L.A.. He is still working on creating his master piece, a big hit screenplay. Mike is married with three kids and working for a firm in Chicago that he has been with for over ten years. Ed is also married, is a dad and is living in Chicago. He buys and sells companies. He’s the king of the deal.

And me? I am married, have two darling girls, moved to Kansas City when my wife was in medical school. I am a marketing/advertising/public relations consultant helping clients solve problems to make more money.

Forget Myers-Briggs, Jung, Keirsey and Enneagrams, etc… all you need is a sandcastle to figure out who you are and why you act and behave the way you do.


I just read that Enio's script "Arabian Night" will be made into a film due out in 2007. Way to go Enio!!!

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