Dear quarter lives,
Do you think there’s a path already laid out for us? Or do we actually carve out our own lives? Perhaps it’s a little bit of both. Perhaps we have a fate and we choose it too. Perhaps we choose the kind of tool we use to carve, but what we carve might be predetermined.
But how does one choose what is certain? How can one possibly fulfill what is meant to be? To choose, to fulfill, perhaps what they both are are acts of acceptance. The doing that which makes the path more agreeable. For undoubtedly, there is suffering on every path, but perhaps all suffering stems from some lack of acceptance. The saying — flow with the tide not against it — encapsulates the power acceptance can have over our experience of living, just as swimming with the tide can alter one’s perception dramatically of the ease or difficulty of swimming in the sea. Perhaps we each have our own tides that, no matter what, are already taking us somewhere, and all we have to do is swim along with them. Although this might all sound simple, it is not so easy to do in practice. Many of us find it very challenging to just let ourselves flow with the tide. Many of us feel the need to control the tide. Many of us can’t seem to just accept and let the tide take us where it will. And that is what I would like to sit with today. I am not interested in arguing whether or not acceptance facilitates one’s life, but rather why does one resist acceptance if we can clearly see the benefit of doing so. Why do we resist that which will make us suffer less? What is that all about? Are we creatures more inclined to suffering than to ease?
I think for me it comes down to confusion. I struggle to recognise and see clearly which direction the tide is heading. And so if I can’t see which way is forward, I don’t know when I am resisting and when I’m trying to go with the flow. I don’t think we are inherently masochistic creatures that take pleasure in making ourselves suffer. I just think most of us can’t tell the direction of the tide. And the only way to tell the difference is to stop all movement for a moment, and see which way the tide carries us. The only way to know is to surrender to the ocean of life and trust that when we stop moving all our limbs, we won’t sink to the bottom and die, or get left behind. And that very act of faith, of trusting that which we cannot see, is what carries us forward and through all the fear. And when we do let go, the ocean will undoubtedly carry us. But I guess that certainty isn’t so easy to believe. Understandably, we are afraid to stop swimming for this one moment. We are afraid because we don’t know how to trust that which we cannot see. The thing is when you are in the ocean, you can’t see it, the water is there all around you but you can’t see it. Unless you pop your head out of the ocean, you won’t be able to see it. But we must remind ourselves that we can feel it. We must remind ourselves that we don’t just see with our eyes. We see with all our senses. We see with our skin. With our hearts. With our ears. We see with our toes and fingers. We see with our breath. We see through our interactions with each other.
I find in the very brief moments where I do choose to let go of my grip on control and go with the flow, it does feel much less exhausting. But a few moments later, I think I’ve figured out where the tide is taking me and I don’t like what I see so I start swimming in the opposite direction. I forget all about how much harder it was before and I start doubting whether I am in fact heading towards ease. And once I am engulfed by this whirlpool of doubt, I am back again to swimming against the current and in this state of confusion where I can’t seem to remember which way is forward, and I start all over again this process of negotiating with myself that it is safe for me to let go again, that I can trust I will be okay, that I will be held. And I rinse and repeat, and on and on goes this cycle of remembering and forgetting that I am essentially not a fish in the ocean, but I am the ocean itself so there is nowhere for me to sink, and nowhere for me to go, but here. Just as fate intended. Perhaps that is the only fate there is — to remember one is the whole ocean and not just a fish.
I recently learned that the roots of the word confusion come from the Latin word — confundo — meaning to fuse with, to mix, to blend. Perhaps that is what it is all about — to mix and blend with it all until we become One.
With love and always with the intention of cultivating peace,