Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Arriving at Truth

"Yeah, the pool's open, but it'll be like swimming in a pond," Scott at the front desk of the gym said.
"How so?" I asked.
"The water's really cloudy, murky," he replied.
"But it's still open AND heated?"

And so I forged ahead with my Thursday swim, thinking no big deal. Well, it was; more so than I had anticipated.

Laden with scratched-up goggles and dense humidity, I began my first length only to flounder as I gulfed the deep end. The black-tile line on the bottom disappeared. I hadn't before understood how much I relied on it and other visual cues to swim straight. I slapped up again the buoyed-line separating the lanes, narrowly missed the side wall and slammed the end tile with my hand.

This isn't going to be so easy, I told myself. Even the water seemed heavier and more resistant. After a few laps, I almost gave up until I recognized the metaphor I was living. This is what life is like when the path is obstructed.

At first, it's disorienting. There are no guides and nothing is familiar. It can be defeating.

And, the energy it requires is astounding. How much more it takes to stay alert and focused. When everything is familiar and known, we glide through with ease and little appreciation, automatically.

If you stick with the fuzziness, though, you begin to detect, however faintly, the (your) guide again. In the dimness, we regain our confidence and also begin to trust. Our awareness is growing.

Eventually, we can relax into the unknown as we cast off perfection and recognize it is okay just because we are attempting it. About lap 10, I smiled (much as one can, holding their breath when the mouth is submerged and quickly releasing to take in air on the upturn) thinking about my favorite line from the movie "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" when the young manager says: "Everything will be okay in the end, if it's not okay, it's not the end."

No one else had ventured into the wet murkiness with me, which was another reminder of how, in seeking the spiritual path, we often feel humanly alone. There is, however, also great freedom in finding our own way and rhythm. Comparisons and competition are eliminated. We get to know ourselves more intimately in this manner, which may be the point.

I could see how much of life, when we live with great ease, is taken for granted. We don't realize the crutches that lure us into autopilot and rob us of awareness of what lay beyond. When the path is unclear or missing, we lose the illusion that we are responsible for where we are, what we have and who we are. In the fog, ego takes a back seat when we can trust Spirit's guidance and forge ahead, even blindly. We also give up the ease of efficiency, which we have mistaken for control.

So I swam three-fourths of my usual regime because this swim required so much more focus, concentration and energy. I gave up the idea that I had to do what I usually do because this circumstance was unusual and teaching me many things. So when my body felt ready, I stopped, grateful for the unexpected journey. I had traveled less territory in the same amount of time, but I had been in a heightened state, alert, aware and in tune in a manner I had never been before when swimming. It carried a dreamlike quality.

I treaded water and stretched as I normally do, then wanted to float in the isolation. And, for a millisecond, I got a glimmer of true surrender. I have always known that learning to float ... to let go, but not completely, is surrender. That knowing emerged when I erased all of my boundaries and became the water.

I am the water, I thought.
I am everything.
I am one.
I am.

I found myself arriving at Truth because of the murkiness, not in spite of it.

UPDATE: Tuesday and the water is clear. I learn that, perhaps, I misplace my trust: too much outside of me, when I know seeds of the Divine reside within me. Yes, the line was easily visible on the bottom of the pool today. But, after last week's experience, I know I can trust the Inner Teacher to guide me.

• When has what seemed like an obstacle or annoyance taught me a major lesson?
• When have I felt I was living a metaphor?
• Describe the quality of that level of awareness.
• Did I find accompaniment?
• Where was Spirit in all of this?

warned that things
weren't as they usually are

I plunged ahead with
the typical ease of

superficiality, getting on
with things and unthinking

losing each layer of unawareness
as my normal compass faded,
lines blurred and I felt

gaining insight, detachment
as ego took a back seat
and I experienced, if
only for a second,
deep surrender

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