We walked down the beach, his three steps to my one. I offered to carry the blue bucket to collect our treasures, but he insisted he carry it himself. We had already taken a few steps, when he ran back for the red plastic shovel, which was almost the same size as him. I tried to tell him he didn't need it, but, again, he insisted. I intentionally kept my pace slow to accommodate my short-legged friend, and so that I could look for interesting shells and sea glass. I had already placed a few finds in the bucket but soon noticed my partner falling further and further behind. He had stopped to heap a shovelful of sand into the bucket, completely covering the things I had placed inside. I redirected his steps and reminded him that our bucket was for treasures and not for sand. A few more steps found us repeating this exercise. After his third stop, with the bucket nearly full of sand and no room left for treasures, this sweet little boy began to list to one side, his movements propelling him more sideways than forward, and at a snail's pace. He didn't ask for help, but I knew we would make no more progress if things remained as they were. So, I asked him, "Is your bucket heavy?" "Yes," came the quick reply. "Well, why don't you empty it." This thought had clearly not occurred to him, but he was willing to take my advice. With his burden lifted, he picked up his pace and began helping me search for lightweight prizes with which to fill the bucket. And, from that point on, he seemed to enjoy the trek down the beach a little more.
I was struck by the similarity to my own life. I insist on doing everything myself, on carrying burdens that I have no business carrying. Burdens that weigh me down, slow my pace and take the place of the beauty life could contain. And, sometimes, it's just time to empty the bucket.