Sunday, May 23, 2010

Ways to Approach an Ocean

First of all, always with respect. Recognizing that it can crush you, without a thought or a care. Beyond even that, without being aware of you as anything more than a tiny fragment of all-pervasive being, of which it too is but a tiny drop.
But you, to you, are you. And you would bathe in this ocean, source of life, maelstrom of forces, cauldron of feeling and being. You would do so and live, to return to dry land with a story, with new understanding. You would immerse yourself, and emerge a master of your inner world, your personal, inner seas tamed, channelled into more manageable rivers and lakes, the occasional splash of rain.
You might then begin your approach with a toe. But you will fail. You will instantly be splashed at least to your knees. And this only if you’ve come in the stillness between waves. Not the tiny, regular waves, of our own tiny, fleeting time, but the vaster waves that the ocean itself attends. (You, after all, do not spend your attention on every breath and heartbeat.)
And unless you instantly retreat, dryness will become but a crumbling memory.
Perhaps, instead, you will navigate your way in a boat. The larger it is, the more immune you may be to the moisture that wants to claim you. An ocean liner might be best, or even a battle ship. Take your station below deck, or in some high tower, with a panel of instruments arrayed about you, the steering wheel in your grasp. Feel your power. You can almost pretend you are on dry land. Except for the laws of tides and currents, the surface interaction of water with air. All of this will make itself felt. Your ersatz earth will be soggified, your reality tossed. And the storms, however repelled by steel hulls and decks, well...isn’t all that what you came to feel? To know that you are alive?
Maybe a smaller vessel will do. Make it a long boat, or a canoe, catamaran or kayak. Something propelled by paddle or by sail, that bends with the undulations of this ocean. Enough of denial and self-repression. Flow with this elemental power. Let it decide the islands and continents you will visit. With or against reason, it will all begin to seem the same. You will begin to intuit how life here is different than on the level ground you’ve previously clung to.
And this experience may make you bolder. Abandon the vessel altogether. You will now meet the ocean head on, so to speak. Plunging, head and outstretched arms boldly splitting the breaking wave, a lung full of air enough for this ride. This ocean is not just the source of all life, but the very amniotic fluid of this life. This is mother embracing. This is the natural home. This is where the very planet cradles you, reminds you of your own fluid nature, the part of you that exists beneath the fragile, permeable skin. This is the embrace into which you can dissolve, to become the proof that nothing in you is foreign to this alien world.
And so you may go further. You may now give up all pretence, all separateness. You will now let the inner forces hold sway, subsume you into its rhythms and cycles, recreate you endlessly, evolving and devolving in a ripple of miracles called both creation and living.
You may even drown.

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