I learned to look at the world through my daughter’s eyes while searching for shells at the beach.

I took my daughter to the beach today. There was hardly room to move, but we found a rocky spot that others had overlooked in favour of sandy expanses of shoreline. It proved to be a treasure trove of shells, kelp, lost belongings and the detritus of marine explorers. She was fascinated. And I was fascinated by her.

I watched, spellbound, as she picked up and inspected each new thing, turning it over and over in her small hands and asking me about its origins. It turned into a game as I made up fantastic stories for her. A lonely lobster collected all the empty mussel shells because he had nothing else to do; a clumsy seagull dropped the shiny silver bracelet during a lapse in concentration; two crabs fought over a gnarled piece of driftwood, leaving tiny indentations in its veneer.

A bottle cap became a coin from a distant land; a wispy piece of coral became a hair accessory; a still-joined clam became a butterfly.

She teaches me something every day. Today’s lesson was about finding pleasure in simple things. And smiling at those simple things. And laughing while looking at the world through her borderless eyes.

The title of this post is borrowed from the lyrics of The Planets Bend Between Us by Snow Patrol.


Janine Papendorf likes coffee, chocolate and wine. Not necessarily in that order. She’s married to a nerdy biker and they’re raising Cape Town’s cleverest child. When she’s not building Lego castles or watching old movies, Janine likes to send words into cyberspace. She’s a freelance writer and content strategist based in South Africa’s beautiful Mother City. Witness her obsession with pink flowers on Instagram, or contact her to collaborate on a project.


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