• Chris Patchell

A Life Made of Sand

Updated: Jan 19

The course of a life is usually captured in the minutes and days that fly by in a blur of frenzied activity punctuated by short-term wins and losses that in the day-to-day realm of modern life, don’t add up to much. I was great in a meeting one day, undermined by a co-worker in the next. I made dinner. Maybe ran on the treadmill. I picked my kids up from school, asked about their day. Half listened. Hopefully got some writing done. Probably not. Watched television with my boo. Went to bed. Got up the next day.


Lather. Rinse. Repeat. You know.


I’ve been doing this life thing for a while now. Five decades plus a little more. And I’ve been lucky. I really have. I have a great husband, great kids, and a good life. But somehow, in the minutes, hours, days that pass by, it’s easy to lose sight of all that’s been accomplished as the years roll on. It wasn’t until I was squandering precious minutes browsing LinkedIn, minutes I should have spent writing, that it struck me.


The turn of the decade caught me by surprise. I couldn’t begin to tell you why. It’s not as if I haven’t written the date down a thousand times, but it did. The arrival of 2020 knocked me back a step, and suddenly, I started to think differently about the passage of time. Instead of measuring my life in the seemingly infinite seconds, minutes, and days that had passed, I paused to look back at the last decade—at the boulders of my life, and things looked different when I stopped to consider everything that had happened since 2010. How much I’ve done. Learned. Grown.


  • My kids have grown from toddlers to teens. Both are in high school. One is driving and the other’s not far behind. They’re good students, good musicians, and great human beings.

  • My husband has reconnected with his music again. Arranged pieces. Composed songs. Played guitar. Taught his children. Learned to brew beer. Become a leader.

  • My mother fought a brave battle with cancer and left this world with grace. The lessons she taught me about life and death remain deeply embedded in my heart.

  • I’ve pursued my passion for writing. I published my first book along with five more. Written three and a half others. Got an agent. Parted ways with an agent. Hit #1 in my genre on Amazon. Appeared on the USA Bestseller’s list. Twice. Met other supportive authors who have become both mentors and friends. I’ve won awards and connected with readers. My work has received over 1500 reader reviews. Most of them good. I’ve set lofty goals. Met some. Failed to meet others. Survived.

  • I’ve taken risks. Wrote novels. Quit a job I used to love. Wrote novels full-time. Faced certain financial realities and swallowed my pride. Went back to work. Wrote some more.

Some of these moments have been the best of my life. Others have been among the hardest.


Looking back at the endless passage of time, life no longer seems so futile. As the grains of sand accumulate in the hourglass, I realize that I need to stop worrying so much about the seconds, the hours, the days that fly by. The minutiae that makes me feel as if I’ve accomplished nothing. Stop examining every grain of sand for meaning, but instead wait until I can sweep my gaze across the beach. There is poetry in forward motion, of putting one foot in front of the other on this crazy, unpredictable path I find myself on.


I will continue to take risks. Say yes to the opportunities that come my way, even the scary ones. I’m going to stumble. Fall. Rise. Keep going. Keep working toward my goals even when it feels as if my dreams are impossible to attain and it will take a lifetime to achieve. Maybe that’s kind of the point.


I will keep my eyes fixed on the road ahead, enjoy the moments with my family, celebrate the victories, mourn the losses and know that when I stop to look back at the end of the next decade, things will look radically different again. I will spend time not examining the individual grains of sand, but the waves as they roll across the beach.

USA Today Bestselling Author

Chris Patchell