Last week my friend broke. And then I broke. I couldn’t fix it, for more reasons than one, and that feeling of helplessness is palpable. I hadn’t written about it because it makes me cry and her story is her own–I didn’t want to tell it. I couldn’t figure out how to address it without crossing the line. But as she just text me and said, “I feel if you take [it] away from me and make me go cold turkey I won’t survive it.” It happened at exactly the moment I was reading the words, “The ocean is not afraid of the waves.” And it was one of those profound moments in life where
everything EVERYTHING makes sense.
That belief that we are conquerable, that we are inferior to, or lesser than some other thing, be it love or pain or a person, or loneliness; that belief is causing us to drown. But how can you drown, I wonder, when we are oceans? It plays to the perception dilemma. We see ourselves as conquerable and so it is no surprise that we succumb to all those things we have named as bigger than us, stronger than us, better than us. We give in to deaths that we have the power to defeat if only we accepted the full span of who we are. I told my friend, “I think you are underestimating your own strength.” Maybe she will believe me one day.
I asked myself how I have allowed my own lungs to fill with water. This space is filled with my triumphs and defeats. And I can see exactly how I thought some things were bigger than me and were waves in my life ready to overtake me and claim me as bounty. But it is just not true. The author wrote:
If you know that you are a spirit having a human experience and that life is meant to be just that, an experience, then you are not afraid of what life throws at you.
Experiences, good or bad, are a natural part of life just like waves are a natural part of the ocean.
If the ocean became afraid of the waves, what would it have to do. It couldn’t try to avoid the waves. They will always be there. The ocean would have to learn to live in harmony with the waves and in turn shed its fear of them.
This is the same for the experiences in your life. Expect them, accept them, embrace them. They are a natural part of you and that will not change, (source)
Life cannot beat me because I am life. The two are not separate pieces, me being the smaller of the two. The experiences that life brings are not stronger/better/bigger/more powerful they just are. Most important, I have to keep the perspective of being the ocean. Being unconquerable. Pain cannot overcome me because it is just a part of me, and I can acknowledge it and I can move on from it.
That Geneen Roth quote has stayed in my heart as a reminder of how easy it is to detach. To feel alone and small and vulnerable. It is a reminder of life through squinted eyes and an unclear version of what life really is. Life is beautiful, its the great teacher, its a ride, but it is not unmanageable. It is not unconquerable. It is not bigger than me. It is me. And as long as I remember that, I can enjoy the waves, appreciate them even. I can see their beauty and necessity. I can love them as I love every part of myself. No more drowning.
Lying in water, you become yourself; ordinary, brown braided woman with big legs and full lips.
And those who fall prey to the dazzle of hips painted with orange blossoms and magnolia scented wrists
That wanted no more than to lay between her sparkling thighs
And had planned on leaving before dawn.
And when you finish writing your account of her exploit in a diary embroidered with lilies and moonstones,
You place the rose behind your ear and cry yourself to sleep
I used to be you.