I spent yesterday afternoon at Fort Funston, roaming north and south along the beach below the bluffs, admiring the beauty of black sand bleeding into white, and scaling the graffitied concrete housing of the storm drain. It’s a stunning place, with the peachy cliffs of sand towering over you and endless ocean opposite. From the top you can watch hang gliders diving low over the parapet and rising back up on the airstreams.

On the beach we built a city in the sand. What began as idly pushing driftwood into the dirt turned quickly into an unspoken art project, one that we constructed over the course of an hour with very little discussion. As we put the final touches on our creation, we placed a beetle inside the walls of our palace. “Our first citizen!” The beetle promptly fell into the moat and we dispatched our rescue team, lifting it to safety. We stepped back to admire our temporary universe, one that would succumb to the sea as surely as the tide would rise next.

Afterwards I thought about our construction and what it meant in the larger context of our lives. While we were building, a person walked by and awarded us praise, our only of the day, with the underhanded comment “Awesome, guys. You all should be getting paid for this.” And sure, some people do have the privilege of being paid to make art, but it was his recognition of that fact that solidified in my mind the significance I’d been seeking. We were four adults, each professional artists in our own way, creating something impermanent on a beach in San Francisco, paying no mind to the time. And while this seems at a glance to be commonplace or trivial, I know this: I will strive my entire life to recognize the intrinsic value in activities that earn me nothing and have no aim.