N’oublie pas de vivre – Don’t forget to live.
Here is how you are living.
You’re walking down the beach, a phone pressed firmly to your ear, and stress lining your features.
Your mom is calling to make sure you remember the school assignment you need to work on.
You remember you remember.
Yes, you tell her and hear the click of the phone call ending.
You take a deep breath and feel it fill your lungs, but it doesn’t help fill your soul.
The problem is not that you are feeling everything.
The problem is that you are feeling nothing.
Your life seems like it is already written out, proofread, and signed with approval from your parents.
You are exactly who you are expected to be, nothing less and nothing more.
You work hard on school; your grades are as high as the stars but you feel lower than the deepest darkest hole on earth.
You are going to a good college next year, a good college that will get you a good job where you’ll make good money. But the college will not help the pit you feel in your stomach, like somethings missing.
You stare up at the blue of the sky, seagulls flying through the air, wings spread, and you wonder what it would be like to be that free. To just fly, without the worry of where you will end up.
But to your greatest disappointment, you weren’t born with wings, and so even if you wish to, you cant fly away. Or so you believe.
You, the human born with no wings, close your eyes for a moment realizing that in a couple of minutes you’ll need to go get in your car and drive home.
That you’ll study as soon as you open your bedroom door and probably spend almost all your free time doing exactly that for the next couple of years.
You imagine yourself sitting at a desk making good money, your parents are proud of you, but will you be proud of the person you have become?
Years will pass at that desk, maybe along the road you’ll get married, have a few kids.
You’ll watch them grow and pray they don’t end up sailing through the same storm you have been your entire life.
And then at the end of it all, you will die.
Is that what life’s supposed to be? Good grades, hard work, and money?
Will you really be laying in a hospital bed eighty years from now, and be thinking, I’m so glad I spent so long studying and making good money. I’m so happy I was successful.
Successful sure, but were you happy?
Suddenly the sea breeze seems cool and prickles at your exposed skin.
You feel like you’re one of the icons on the board on Life, and you are being placed around against your will.
A flash of light catches your eyes. Your gaze falls to the horizon where the dark waters of the ocean rise and fall against the sand.
You scrunch your eyes, there are a couple of other people on the beach, some of them sprawled out on bright colored blankets, others walking hand in hand feet bare.
And no one else sees the gleaming light flashing just near the water's edge.
Placing your phone carefully in your purse, you set it near a rock, hoping nobody else sees it
I know what you’re thinking, you better forget it, go back home, go study.
And yet something stops you, call it fate or merely a curiosity, either way, you stumble your way down the beach, eyes fixed on where you saw the flashes of light.
As you get closer the voice of the ocean fills your ears, you have heard people call it the oceans roar, but to you, it sounds like a song. Like a desperate, powerful, and beautiful song.
Your eyes scan the oceans lapsing waters as soon as you draw near. Before you notice, the water coming higher up the sand your runners are soaked and soggy.
With a sigh, you take them off one by one and toss them behind you.
The sand is so cold under your toes, and your feet sink ever so slightly.
The waves crash in front of you, quickly collapsing in on themselves and melting out spraying your clothes.
Your eyes widen, you haven’t felt the water on your bare skin in what seems like a lifetime.
Scanning carefully around your feet for whatever was shining something catches your gaze.
Another wave crashes in front of you and the object is pulled farther into the ocean's grasp.
Doubt and determination are at war in your head and with determination winning you suck in a breath and wade a little deeper into the water.
The water now just past your knees and your shorts are already soaked. Finally, you get close enough and hurry to grasp the object under the water.
Pulling it up you hold it up to the sunlight. At first, you think its some sort of rock but its vibrant blue color changes your mind.
Its smooth surface is absolutely gorgeous, the water dripping off it is causing the light to refract off it.
You’re stunned because you’ve never found anything like this before. Clutching it carefully in your palm you turn to make your way back up to the shore. Still so shocked and excited you don’t see the wave coming up behind you. This one much larger than the others and you don’t notice until it hits you.
That’s the thing about life, obstacles will always come, and sometimes you’ll never see them coming.
You squeal as the power of the waves pounds your legs. It's enough to cause you to lose your footing and you fall forward the water quickly consuming your limbs.
The current pulls back and you're now sprawled out in knee-deep water, the current pulling you back.
You Gasp, trying to get up is hard with your heavy sobbing wet clothes, and you try your best to regain your footing.
Suddenly arms come around you helping you regain your balance.
Relief floods your system as you make it out of the cool water and squeeze out your T-shirt.
“Hey, you okay?”
You look up to see the boy who helped you up standing in front of you. His hair is messy and almost exactly the color of the sand.
You look down at your dripping wet cloths, the treasure you found still clutched tightly in your palm.
Without warning, you burst out laughing. They wrack your body and you clutch your stomach; you haven’t laughed like this in so long you’ve forgotten how to contain it.
The boy in front of you is grinning sheepishly once you’ve finally calmed your nerves.
“I’m so sorry, thanks for helping me, I can't believe I fell in,” you exclaim smiling, the adrenalin still pumping through your veins.
He smiles and it consumes his entire face, he holds out his hand. “Anytime, I’m Noah by the way.”
You nod and tell him your name shivering in the sun.
He scratches the back of his neck, “So why were you in there anyway?”
You hold up your treasure so he can see, explaining to him that you saw it flashing from the beach.
His grin deepens, “Wow sea glass, I haven’t seen that on this beach in ages, all the plastic in the ocean has made them rare.”
Sea glass you think and smile holding it carefully in your hands.
Sea glass you remember, is formed from broken pieces of glass bottles and jars that have been tumbled around by the ocean over the years. Something that was once broken and then is remade into something beautiful.
You're not sure why you tell him, maybe its because you haven't ever really talked to anyone except for your parents, or maybe its because you just need to tell someone.
“I know this sounds silly, but all I’ve ever done in my life is study. My parents have my whole life planned out, I’m supposed to be going to college next year and I still don’t even know who I am.”
You sigh, chewing nervously on your bottom lip.
“When I saw the flash of light from up farther on the sand I don’t know, I just felt like doing something else, something that I want to do, that is completely and solely my decision.”
You stop and feel stupid for telling a random stranger all your problems and start to apologize before they hold up a hand.
“So you mean to tell me, you have been on this planet for what, seventeen years and you still don’t know what “Life” is all about?”
His eyes sparkle and you shrug your shoulders, feeling pathetic.
What life is about? You don't know, you really don’t know.
Before you can stop him the boy is all the sudden right in front of you and your eyes widen.
He smiles at you, “You’ll thank me later for this.” And then out of nowhere he grabs you by the waist and lifts you taking you back towards the water.
Everything happens so fast and he’s laughing in your ear and then your both submerged the water.
You shriek, but you’re laughing too and splashing him with water.
Both of you are still in your clothes, and you should definitely be at home studying but you’re happy and you’re laughing and nothing else matters.
His smile is pure gold and it seems to draw a smile just as bright out of you. A smile you forgot you still had.
All you can hear is the waves crashing and his laughter and you think to yourself, this moment right here is worth more than all the A+ papers in the world.
Once you finally make your way back to the sand, he passes you an extra towel he had in his bag.
The towel is soft and you sit down on the sand a smile still dancing lazily across your face.
He comes and sits next to you and you are both quiet watching the sunset. You hear a ringing and you pull your purse into your lap quickly answering your phone.
Your mom is yelling asking where you are and its as if reality suddenly comes crashing down on you.
She's going on and on about your grades and this kind of behavior is not acceptable.
Your heart is pounding but for the first time in your life, you know what you had been missing all those years.
It was happiness.
It was happiness because you had been living your entire life up until now, living someone else’s dream. And you realized that you would rather have more memories like these than have perfect marks on every assignment you have in school.
Happiness and laughter you decided were worth more than being successful.
You’ve never hung up on your mother before, but you tell her quick, I’m on my way home now, and then you hang up the phone.
Beside you, Noah glances your way, “Got to get home?”
You sigh and nod, still not wanting this moment to end.
“Listen,” He says turning so we're face to face.
“I’ve honestly had more fun tonight than I’ve had in months, and I know what it's like to feel like your entire life is just about good grades and money.
Here is the thing though, Studying, working to get a job you don’t even enjoy but makes good money. That is not living. That’s not what life is supposed to be.”
His words turn something on inside yourself. Because he’s right, he’s right.
You offer him a smile hoping it tells him all the words you wish you could.
Grabbing your purse from beside you and the piece of sea glass, you stand up.
Noah does too, an off sort of look on his face.
“Will, I ever see you again?” He asks.
Yes yes yes you think because for the first time in your life it feels like the universe is smiling down at you.
It seemed to be saying here, here is a friend.
“Meet you here tomorrow and 5:00?” you ask.
He grins and nods.
You smile and pass him his towel from around your shoulders.
Before you can turn away he catches your wrist.
“Don’t forget to live, really live.”
You grin and tell him you won't
you will never forget.
And then you turn away, you learn to live your life to the fullest, discovering that you do not need wings to fly,
you never did.