On the little slab of stone, under the shade of overgrown bushes and weeds and trees, against the cascading putter of the pond in our backyard that regenerates itself constantly, I finally could breathe.
When it was all getting to be too much, when so many emails poured in and so many voices, I forgot the admonition to “be like the ocean,” the depths, not the surface. And so I opened the door and stepped out into the sudden heat and white light and crawled into that little nook where it never occurred to me to sit before.
It’s been year since we moved in, but I never thought to claim it as a retreat from the madness of life. I opened the book titled Peace that I picked up at the ashram in northern India two years ago and let the page fall open that I needed to read.
It was about meditation, about the ocean depths, about the story of an elephant crossing a rickety old bridge and a tiny ant exclaiming how the two of them together almost caused the bridge to break, and the elephant not bothering to correct the ant because an argument over egos was really not necessary.
You see, that’s the thing.
We get so caught up in the intricacies of human life, thinking we are more important than we are, insisting on being right in so many inconsequential situations.
I do it. You do it. We all do it. The tendency is to stomp our feet, hands on hips, and stare straight-on, insisting we are right.
I. Am. Right.
Me, not you.
How do we change the world and bring about world peace by claiming our own brilliance?
The sound of the water soothes, as I look at the words. Of course. I’d forgotten it was so beautifully simple.
There were times when I tangled on the yoga mat to the sound of the music and sang Hare Krishna and believed that early morning candlelight and incense would make a difference. Sometimes it did; sometimes it didn’t.
Because people can get tangled in what they see as truth whatever path they walk. There is brilliance everywhere and nowhere. And the trick is to not follow any such leader, but rather create an amalgamation of leaders to truly understand the glimmer of incredibleness in this world.
Once we follow one, we cease to claim clarity. Once we discover our own inner voice, that bottom-of-the-ocean innate brilliance that was always there all along, there is no need to follow, but rather to lead.
By daily periods of silence.
By smiling through the insults and the complaints, the whining and the foot-stomping.
Smiling through it all.
Two years ago, my love and I went to Maine, one of our bucket-list trips. We kayaked at sunset down the cold Atlantic coast. We watched the first sunrise in the United States pink the sky quietly and perfectly. We hiked on smooth stones around a glacial lake where there was no sound but the sound of our footsteps and the blip of fish and frogs in the water gasping air and the clicking of trees swaying in the breeze.
We did so much. And we loved so deeply.
And at the end of the day, so tired from sunrise to sunset, we began to bicker.
Why? Because we fell into the morass of being human and couldn’t see out of the thicket.
What an anniversary trip, right, to bicker over tiredness. What a silly waste of time.
The day after we clucked our tongues and hung our heads in shame. Why waste time like that? Why fall into the pit of despair?
The goal is to hold our heads higher than the mundanities of human life. To rise above. To remember the depths of the ocean where nothing moves you to excitation or to utter despair.
How can one email or one phone call or one miserable driver on the road next to you change your equilibrium? Really?
And how can one kiss, one glance, one hug make everything better?
Aren’t we stronger than that?