‘It is good to be back here again’. ‘Here’ is Southwold promenade. All the preparations for the summer season are nearly complete. One café on the pier has been refurbished; the beach huts are in place. The carpenters are replacing rotten timbers and painting the beach huts in their pretty colours. The three kiosks on the promenade are ready to serve their appetising refreshments.
This year there was one difference – a noisy difference. There was the whine and grind of a bulldozer, a large dump truck and digger that were busily moving large amounts of sand and shingle from one side of each groyne to the top of the beach and levelling it out. The effects of longshore drift were being corrected. Part of the process was lifting the planks that were part of each groyne to enable the machinery to move from one section to another. As each section was completed, the dividing planks were put back into place and the beach was once again the enticingly attractive place for playing and relaxing.
As I sat watching the operations, the word ‘dismantle’ came to mind. For the machinery to access each section, the dividing planks in each groyne had to be taken down. Sometimes in life, in order to make progress, we have to dismantle whatever hinders that progress. We may tend to protect ourselves from facing the reason why we are struggling, or we might pretend that everything is fine when it isn’t. We might be going round in circles because something is being asked of us that we are not willing to give or put right. It may appear that the demands on us are unfair – but if we are prepared to dismantle the limits we have put on ourselves, then those demands could take us to the root of a problem and stop us from papering over the cracks while the problem grows bigger and has a disastrous outcome. The dismantling, shifting and levelling out taking place in front of me prevents the eventual silting up of the harbour, lifts the beach to a safe level and restores lovely sand near the pier where the holiday-makers want it. It also prevents the groynes and promenade from being undermined. Are we prepared for the times of dismantling that are necessary if we are to become the person we want to be?