Friday, August 16, 2013

Living the T-Shirt Slogan

            For years now, my mom and wife have been buying our family T-shirts by the “Life is Good” company. Aside from being the most comfortable cotton shirts you can find, these tees are also the happiest clothes in the world. Their simple logos feature the now-famous stick-figure drawings with brief slogans promoting the simple pleasures of life.
            Keep it simple. Enjoy the ride. Spread good vibes. Peace out. Stay cool.
            The cheerful optimism embodied by this company is admirable, but there can be times when it feels forced. Hey, what if I’m having a bad day? Aren’t there times when life is more complex than a T-shirt slogan? Perhaps that’s why some have chosen to instead embrace the line of “Life is Crap” products also available. The glass, after all, may not always be half-full.
            Of course, it’s all about perspective. And whatever your outlook on life, there are days when you can’t deny it – life really is good. You don’t need a T-shirt to tell you this, because it’s right there in front of you. And more often than not, we feel this way because of the simple pleasures around us. Today, my wife, daughters and I had the chance to live out the T-shirt slogan, and we won’t soon forget it.
It started with the girls’ agenda – they wanted to spend the last of our four days in the Chesapeake Bay area hunting for sea glass. My younger daughter Chelsea took to sea-glass searching a few years ago, and she’s got an eye for finding the stuff. During a typical beach day at the Jersey Shore, Chelsea will spot one or two pieces, then take them back to my parents’ house, where she adds them to a vase filled with tiny pieces of sea-smoothed glass.
            We’d never looked for the stuff in Maryland, though, so we took the advice of our hotel clerk and tried a tiny beach, no more than 100 yards long, on a slender finger of land jutting into the Chesapeake. As we stepped onto the sand of Claiborne Beach, we couldn’t believe our eyes. It was a sea-glass cornucopia. We found white, brown, blue, green, even red. Some were the size of pebbles, others were the size of clam shells, and plenty more were in between.
            As we searched for and lifted these glistening pieces of softened glass off the shore, we stood ankle-deep in deliciously temperate waters, under cloudless skies, with no one else on the beach. Sailboats dotted the bay, and the patter of soft waves meeting sand filled our ears.
            After an hour and a half of walking and searching, we had netted half a gallon full of sea glass. We had cleaned up the earth a bit, added to Chelsea’s collection, and enjoyed nature at its most pristine. It was the kind of experience you don’t often forget – the kind of memory that holds a family together during those difficult days when the glass seems half-empty. We were smiling, but more than anything, we were in awe of the perfection of it all.

            As we picked up our shoes and prepared to leave the beach, another family arrived with pails, shovels and towels in hand. We asked a woman if she could take a photo of us together in front of the bay, and she did. Katie held the bag of sea glass, but Chelsea held the message. She was, after all, wearing her favorite T-shirt. It read, “Life is Good.”