Imagine a beach at night. A soft, balmy breeze caresses your skin as you walk barefoot in the sand. You gently squeeze your lover’s hand as you both stare up at the full moon glowing bright overhead. You look down and see the moon’s pale light shining in the ocean’s waves, paving a white, shimmering highway headed out to sea.
Kinda makes me wish I was there.
Well, last night I was, at least in part. I was walking home late along a trail down by the James River, just below the Falls. Down there the river is serene and sedate, flowing along majestically on its way to the Chesapeake Bay.
I wasn’t looking at anything in particular. The city lights across the river. The cars zooming by on the I-95 bridge a half-mile downriver. The light clouds overhead in the dark, moonless sky.
Then I looked down at the water below me and saw the same shimmering path made by that full moon on the beach. The same pale white light, the same sparkling ripples in the water.
But there was no moon. I looked up, and my eyes followed the path of light back to its source, a huge billboard beside the interstate, screaming out in bold letters
MEGA MILLIONS JACKPOT
I looked back down at the water. It was odd. If I focused on that reflection in the waves, it was easy to imagine I was back at the beach, looking at a full moon low on the horizon. But the second I looked up and saw that hideous billboard, the illusion was gone, evaporating like so much smoke. But the view of the water was the same.
Then it struck me. The only difference between the two -– between seeing the sign and not seeing the sign –- was me. Me and my perception of the world. Me and my attitude towards it.
One view was beautiful. One was not. And I was all that stood between them.
I guess beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.