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When I was a little boy, I used to love going to the beach, but I didn't really like the beach. The sand, I mean. It was rough on my feet, and it was hot. I used to wonder why there was such an annoying barrier to cross before I could plunge into the cool, moving seawater. And again on the way back, sand clinging to any wet spot it could reach, to be removed only by brushing it off as lightly as possible to keep from being scraped.

Well, the first thing you'll notice is the self-centeredness of the child. I didn't care that other people might love the sand, build forts or bury themselves in it. It was in my way, and I wanted it gone.

And, of course, I was completely helpless to do anything about it. All I could do was resent the way the world was and feel like the whole thing was completely unfair.

As I grew into adulthood, I did develop some options. I could forego the pleasure of swimming in the ocean and avoid the sand entirely. It is always possible to get rid of bad experiences by restricting all of one's experiences, but that seems to lead to a pretty empty life.

Another alternative would be to take charge of the situation, to develop my human "power" to the point where I could change something. I could, for instance, have a swimming pool built at my house, and avoid sand that way. Or, I could become a developer of seaside property, and build a boardwalk over the sand for all to enjoy. Short of jumping off the pier into the water, though, I still wouldn't be able to reach the sea.

Or, rather than try to eliminate all the little obstacles that block the way to every joy, I might just accept the effort to overcome them as part of the lesson of the whole.

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