Saturday, November 19, 2011

Diving into Life

Life is like the ocean. Sometimes it is calm and peaceful, and sometimes it is a raging storm. Even during the peaceful times, there are waves and currents. The tides roll in, the tides roll out, day after day, without fail. The ocean is always teaming with life and activity. It is never still. It is always changing. Life is exactly like this.

If you attempt to sit still in the ocean, you are carried one way or another by waves and currents. It takes some action on your part to direct your path, or to even stay in one place. You have to swim, tread water, kick, paddle, drop an anchor, do something, or you are going to be moved. If you pause, for even a moment, the current can move you great distances. The ocean is a powerful force, even when peaceful.
Have you ever stood at the beach and let the waves rush over you? Not ready to jump right in to all the chaos, you timidly walk down to where water meets sand and inch your way in. As you stand there enjoying the cool flood over your hot feet, WHAM! a huge wave comes and knocks you on your butt. As you try to stand, the sand under you rushes away, pulled back into the water with the receding wave, you lose your footing, and down you go again. As you struggle, another wave comes along, and you are rolled. That second wave doesn't need to be very big to knock you over, since you haven't fully recovered from the first one. You are only sort of standing, and very unsteady. As wave after wave continues to hit, you tumble, and roll, struggle, and gasp. Eventually, you back up, and retreat to higher ground, or dive on in and try to get all the sand out of your pants.

Inching towards a big change in life can be frightening. We approach with caution, and inch our way in. Standing there, hesitating, we can get hit with a big wave, a devastating set back, like a major illness, job loss, death of a loved one, etc. Then when we are down, and still struggling to stand, even the smallest waves can knock us back down, and keep us down, tumbling us over and over, as we struggle to breathe and stand. Sometimes it seems like those waves keep on coming, and that we are going to drown, that the ocean will win, and drag us out to sea. We might even need a friend to rescue us and pull us one way or another, out of the line of fire.
The best way to go for a swim in the ocean, is to run and dive right on in. Dive over the wave, into the wave, or under it. When you are swimming, you cannot be knocked down. The wave loses its power when you stop resisting, and go with the flow. What is a powerful force at the shore, capable of knocking you flat, is a gentle rocking motion when you are bobbing along in the middle of it. If you are swimming under the surface, it feels like nothing at all. While standing, or treading water, if a large wave approaches, and you aren't paying attention, you can still get walloped good. A face full of salt water that leaves you sputtering, but still upright. If you see it coming, all it takes is a little hop just at the right moment, and you float along, with your head safely above the surface. Resisting is what causes all the trouble.

In life, it's just the same. It's the resistance to life's changes,and challenges that bring all the destruction and pain. When we fight against the inevitable, when we hesitate to take the next step, that's when life really knocks us down. We have to pay attention, see what is coming our way, and then jump on board, and ride the wave. When we resist, we go under, we sputter, and gasp. Life is never going to be like a reflection pool - still and perfectly clear. It keeps moving, and changing. Every day we have new things come our way. Life changes. If we don't figure out how to adapt and change with it, we suffer, and life is harder than it needs to be.

Learning to anticipate the waves, and jump into them, rather than resist, helps smooth out the ride. If you see a future challenge coming, do what you can to prepare for it, and when it hits - jump up to great it, rather then try to out run it, you will float along with only a minor disruption. You can't out run, or out swim, the waves of change that life brings. Babies grow up, kids get married, people get sick, we have to move, jobs are lost, cars break down, we grow old, and everyone of us will eventually die. You can't avoid these normal life events. You can prepare, you can be watchful, and you can embrace each new wave as it comes your way. You can jump in and live life, rather than stand on the shore and let the waves beat you down. You must keep moving, if you wish to have any peace. There is no such thing as standing still.

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