Sitting by the sea expands my vision and perspective ("The world is my oyster! Let me crack that sucker open and get the pearl!"), yet brings the simple things of life in much sharper focus. Reading a beloved classic, Gift from the Sea, while at the ocean water's edge, has allowed me the pause to consider the internal collision that has been ongoing in my world. Maybe you can relate.
Something about the exhale of the ocean, the sea creatures freely existing not even thinking about the daily manna provided, the constant of the day beginning and ending by the light of the sun and moon...calms my heart, soul and mind and I hear the whisper of God, "Be still. Bloom where you are planted. Trust me. Let go of the rope. Go with the flow of the waves."
I often feel as though I am on a balance beam. I imagine it high above the very ocean I connect with so deeply. Beneath me the waves either rage or calm, they constantly change shape and swell, sometimes they house sharks, sometimes baby sea turtles. I often get caught up in their analyzation, instead of their consistent ebbing and flowing, resisting the invitation to just be in their presence. Fearing their times of rage might overtake me...missing out completely on their calm. Very similar to how I experience life.
Carefully measuring each step to stay on the narrow balance beam platform, petrified of falling to either side, I can be so laser focused my broader vision is actually blurred. I become so focused on staying on the beam, of finding balance, that I often can't see, can't feel my feet touching the beam, can't remember taking my last step. My peripheral vision catches glimpses here and there of well meaning people beckoning me to either side. Oh, how I want to please them. And I want to be balanced, paying attention to both parts of me - the driven professional and the deeply creative contemplative wife, mother, friend.
On one side, one world so very compelling, my game changing female leader allies invite me in, embracing my gifts and propelling my drive for impact to my profession, cementing our voice and our place at the table. And oh, I could so do it. Darn it! But the fight to stay present on this side is for an entirely different written offering of which will most likely be the book I finally write. Not. For. Me. And I am ready to accept it.
The other side, equally as enticing, though harder to hear, whispers to me in my very limited quiet spaces, begging me to be present in each moment, to let life happen, to make room for margin, to allow God to truly guide my every one step at a time. This. This deeply woven being present thread is beginning to shine brilliantly through my muck and is proving most core to the very breathing in and out of my soul.
So how do I stay on the beam, yet not seek the unattainable balance and instead make it about embracing the present? Might it be that I sit down on the beam for a time gaining strength in the lower centering of gravity? Maybe this posture would bolster me if the raging waves of injustice reared their white capped flares making it next to impossible for me to ignore their beckoning. Oh, what a fighter I realize I am in these moments. But what am I fighting for? Does it matter? Is it that important?
Might it be that I step off the beam to the calm side of the sea, let go of the rope and practice existing, being present and resetting the overdrive that has long been my gear of function? Ah, yes, relaxation, embracing reality and living in each and every moment to its fullest. Who would not wish for such serenity? Sounds a whole lot easier than it actually is.
I laid out a set of four books on my bed this morning and texted my girlfriend a picture of these books and an epiphany. "I have been reading books that are diametrically opposed. Books about setting and accomplishing goals on one side, books about trusting the still small voice of God within myself on the other side." I explained my wrestling on this balance beam of life. I reflected to her that I simply cannot be on both sides at once and the attempt of balancing it all has proven impossible.
It's time to get my bearings, to get off the balance beam and just be for a time. It's a daily rewiring though, for me. It's one daily thought manna at a time. It's ceasing to strive, it's living where I am, it's being present and making a lot of hard new choices to remain there. It involves a lot of "nos". It's not giving up or in. It's recognizing the unattainable "balance" many of us try to "achieve" and accepting the what is and seeing it as beautiful and enough.