I watched a young boy build a sand castle on the beach. His labor was intense. He scurried around it with the energy of an eight year old, scrutinized every angle with the precision of an engineer, and when he was done - jumped into a marketing campaign that would put the best firms to shame.
I bet that boy talked about that sand castle for days. Every day that passed, the castle would grow larger in his mind. He did something good. He used his hands and summoned his skill. He created something from nothing but a flat bar of sand.
After the boy and his father moved on, I watched another group of boys climb that sand castle. They ran at it with smiles on their faces, jumped, landed on it, and stomped it into little piles of sand. They left - presumably to find their parents - laughing, kicking sand, and splashing water along the way.
I watched the waves of the next tide wash the remains of that castle flat. It didn't take too many waves. After a few rows rolled neatly over the humps, one would never know they were there. The beach had reset. The world was as it was before the boy came along.
As a leader in government, I have been asked to build many sand castles. We still talk about them over coffee in friendly cafes. They seem bigger than they were in real life, and the men and women who built them with me still smile when we remember together.
People loved kicking those sand castles down once we were gone. I occasionally got word from those who watched the sand-castle-kickers play. It seems they started jumping on them almost as soon as we left. I'm betting they had a good time.
Today, the places where we built our sand castles are gone. Some energetic groups are building new ones just a few yards from where ours once stood. Waiting in the wings are groups of people who will take them down and waves that will wash them away.
I'm smiling as I write this. It's all good fun.