Give me a life problem and I will find a metaphor or way to visualize it. I would like to reiterate at this time, that my friends are amazingly patient:) Perhaps it’s the approach of summer, but lately my life is one big visualization of “swimming in the ocean.” When standing in the shallow water, the experience consists of periods of calm..froth…. bubbles…laughter. Periodically, the waves come. I see and deal with most of them. Dodge..jump..get knocked down….surrender my feet for a minute and let the wave take me toward shore. A few of them I don’t see coming or they look smaller than they really are. I find myself doing an underwater somersault and end up with sand located in every body orifice imaginable.
When exhausted with the shallow games, there are a couple of options. It’s certainly in one’s right to ride one of those waves all the way onto the shore and sit on the sand. Check out…escape….watch all the other people splashing and flailing around in the shallows. Or, over one shoulder lies the deep water. The waves are smaller, the roar is quietened in the ears, and it is peaceful. Exhaustion has set in. There has been so much hard work, it would be a shame to walk away – especially considering the effort it takes to get in the water in the first place. With some courage, we can paddle out to the deep end of the ocean….and allow the ourselves to sink a bit. The water is still and silent as we drift down. But, when the pressure builds against the body and mind…fear and panic set in….the bottom is not easy to touch from here. What if exploring the deep doesn’t make life easier and more meaningful? What if it makes us drown? Common sense tells us that surrender, calm and some active kicks will allow us to float to the top. However, in this deep, silent space…the last layer of truth is the hardest to face. There have been many before me that went into this space but did not make it out. And, if I’m honest, there are days when I understand why they did not.
In real life I can swim…..but barely. In fact, and I have disclosed this to very few, I have always instinctively (like from toddler age) feared drowning. This surrender I speak of does not come easy to me and this visualization is the scariest I can imagine. I remember Elizabeth Lesser writing about “the gap” of grief and how if someone stays with it, a fear will set in while wondering if they stay stuck in this difficult place forever. The reason those afraid to deal with emotional baggage decline to go there, is because they are afraid to deal with the mess. I can tell you for those that attempt the mess, the biggest fear is to stay there in it. The key is forward movement, because just beyond that place of fear and sadness….is relief (praying this is true).
My writing this past year is full of decries of surrender and letting go. I have mourned many things. At each resting spot, I am met by God, family and friends and been given tools to carry on. I have finally reached the place, however, that is the most personal. The weight can be crushing. The desire some days is to escape, to run, to deny. But when I look back over my life, every time I escape, run and deny…I become ill. So I am left to deal, act, and accept…or give up. I know I am not alone. I see the pain in too many eyes to know that I am alone. And so, I move forward. I deal. I wait. I try to “out patience” the fear. I try to settle into the deep water and relax. Breathe. Will I float? Can I kick back and smile up at the sun? Eventually, I hope so. Maybe I will even bump into you….floating out there in the deep. For goodness sake though, don’t forget the sunscreen or bring any open wounds….I can’t handle any more drama 🙂