Parviz Alam

Mon Oct 26 2020 04:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)


I’m laid back and relaxing, a soothing warm sensation on my skin from the sun. A periodic sound of waves crashes onto the sand and a cool brisk smell lingers in the air. I’m looking out across the beach at people building houses, farms, villages, castles, and even skyscrapers out of water and sand.

Some are building too close to the ocean, where the waves will tear down the foundation. Others are too far and it’s hard to get enough water to build a proper structure. Someone has walked away from their family’s grand sandcastle and I contemplate why. Nearby, a soft voice talks about their plans to build a skyscraper. It's an awesome plan, but those around them say it’s impossible.

Everyone wants to build their own sandcastle in life, even though it's all temporary. Sooner or later, the weather and waves wash it all away. Still, I want my own castle. I want to build it near my family’s, so I can build a city around our castles. I know how I want it to look, but I’m not sure how to build it yet. I have to start now. I try to go, I want to get up, but I can’t move. I’m stuck. If I don’t move now, I’ll miss another opportunity to create my vision. Why can’t I move?

‘Is everything okay?’ I hear. I am strapped to a table. My panic subsides as I remember that the warm flush sensation was radioactive dye coursing through my blood and the periodic waves I heard were the PET scan circling my body. I’m here to get images of my cancer’s progression and find out if I can start a new sandcastle or if a tsunami is going to wipe me out. Regardless, I emptily tell the technologist that I am okay.

When I was younger, I abandoned some sandcastles because I was told they were worthless. These small projects paled in comparison to the prospects of a profession as a doctor, lawyer, or engineer. It’d be like comparing a baby to an adult or a seed to a tree. My seed was an online arbitrage business that I started 7 years ago. Today, it’s a saturated market, but back then it was innovative. It was impressive that I did that when I was 18, but somewhere along the way, I lost faith in myself. I gave up on a seed before it could grow into a tree.

I ended up leaving so many similar sandcastles, the overarching reason being ‘to establish a more stable future’. In retrospect, I wish I had stuck to my sandcastles because no career or life path is ever secure. The future is vast like the ocean.

I will never know exactly what waves may come; I could get cancer again and there could be a pandemic. At least if I focus on my own sandcastle, even with those waves crashing in, I’ll look back and be proud of what I made.