“Do you see the crane up ahead?” “Yes, it’s near the edge of the water. It must be looking for breakfast.” My husband and I were on an early morning beach walk when we spotted this bird. We commented on how cranes stand still for extended periods before darting their heads in the water to catch a fish. They have incredible patience and the one we could see ahead of us was no exception. It hadn’t moved since we’d first spotted it. We drew nearer and burst into laughter. The crane we’d been watching was actually a pole, stuck upright in the sand with the tattered remnant of a white sandbag wrapped around it! No wonder it stood so still. A few years ago, on another stretch of beach, we were fooled by the same thing so were surprised to be misled again so easily. Obviously, we hadn’t learned our lesson as well as we thought. As lessons go, this was a good one to be reminded of. The perfect picture I see from afar is often quite different when observed from a closer vantage point. Someone else’s life may appear to be perfect but I have no idea of the struggles and heartache that may be just below the surface. The same holds true for my life. Some days I feel like the sleek, graceful crane and others I’m more like the tattered sandbag, barely holding on. The next time I wish my life looked as good as yours, I’ll think about the crane and the sandbag and be grateful for the life I’ve been given.