I often experience the days like someone rowing, and each time I slip an oar below the surface, it disturbs the water. When I'm tired or stunned enough to stop rowing, the water goes clear. In those moments, I can see through to the bottom. It always makes me wonder where I'm going. This is how we live. We need to move through the world, but only when we stop does the world open.
We see differently when rowing and when letting the water go clear. There seems to be a second sight always waiting below our surface sight. Oh we can see enough to get around, to cross the street and go to the bank and pick up the medicines we need. But each of us sees more clearly when the water of all that needs to be done goes clear. When we can be still enough, a larger, more encompassing perspective opens up and we see and feel more than the circumstance we're moving through.
When the water goes clear, we may see briefly from all perspectives at once and from the longest view of time. In such moments, the course of whole lives is glimpsed, which we sometimes struggle to make sense of. We fumble with attempts such as, "When exhausted, I saw my destiny" or, "In the midst of my pain, I felt the pain of the world" or, "When planting the last row of garlic, I felt the hand of everyone who ever planted."
This deeper seeing belongs to a second self that waits in the center of our heart for us to exhaust the world's instructions about how to survive, waiting for the day that we're broken open. Then, over time or all at once, the light, making its way into our break, causes our second self to stretch and grow, which feels like a deep, alarming pain behind our heart, one we try to quiet or get rid of. When blessed, that stretching growth pain doesn't go away, and our deeper, second self begins to show itself, a sensation we don't often know what to do with.
A Question to Walk With: Describe a time when the turbulence of your life went clear, like a lake, and what you were able to see below the turbulence.
For more poetry for the soul, click here.
For more by Mark Nepo, click here.