I have been swept along in life as if in a flowing stream. I cannot remember a time when my course was my own, and for the most part, that has been by choice as opposed to chance. Rather, for as long as I remember, I have committed my destiny to the flow of the stream, traveling along its course only as it leads. Perhaps, for a moment, when I was young, I desired for my destiny to be my own, to decide my direction and insist upon my choices to determine the journey. However, I soon realized the stream carried me to much more interesting places and led to unexpected outcomes that far exceeded my modest and uninformed expectations. Water became my focus and fascination. In a way, my life became haunted by water.
I have learned in my life that there is no more potent force on earth than that of water. When struck by any hard blow, water simply yields to and enfolds it, unharmed by it – an important lesson providing immeasurably valuable insight into life and how to live it. The most substantial stone yields over time to water, consumed by the patience and persistence of it. Another lesson useful to life and its’ living.
My dad taught me about water. We were always around it, on it, learning its’ ways. Water provided life, and he taught me to respect and be interested in every aspect of life. He guided me to never surrender, but through acceptance, to never be broken, as was the perseverance of water. Acceptance is one of the most important lessons of water.
As time went on, I learned to travel upon the oceans, the great mother of all living things, traveling far from land and other beings for long periods of time, completely alone. In those times one is apt to develop a different sense of self that is new and far removed from the distractions of the land and its community of beings. The ocean is a place that utterly ignores you. Your fate, to the ocean, is of no concern at all. So, it is a place that imparts, to anyone with the temerity and contemplation to sailing upon it, a sense of overwhelming peace and utter powerlessness.
It is both comforting and disconcerting, all at the same time. Voyaging upon it is to find oneself simply and unequivocally ignored, viewed to be of no consequence or importance at all. The inevitability of this experience, when viewed with an open mind, can only arrive at one end, and that is a sense of utter humility. Buddhism explained it as oneness.
This humility to me seemed a bastion, a stalwart fortification from which to partake in life with a great many things less to fear. A person can finally attain true self-confidence and freedom by yielding to one’s own powerlessness. Self-confidence and freedom are any life’s most valued possessions. Interestingly, so many important concepts in life are realized only by accepting their opposites.
With those thoughts in mind, here are a few of my journeys along the stream of life.