I was at a retreat last weekend and our group visited the beach at dawn. After our session, a few people paddled into the waves on the shore, but a Japanese woman in the group went straight for the deep, bobbing and diving like a mermaid where the waves were forming. It looked like a miraculous feat of daring to those of us watching from the shore.
When I was ready to go in, she held hands with me as we ventured beyond the rough breakers crashing on the shore. We held hands as I acclimated to the movement of the warm, calm, silky ocean. We held hands as waves lifted us high over the ocean floor, being able to sustain the depths because of the comfort of each other’s presence. Eventually, we let go and floated and swam and kicked up our feet and did all those things that look miraculous from the shore, while the waves swelled and rolled beneath us.
We tried to entice other people in, and swore it was the easiest thing in the world, much easier than struggling with the push-pull of the breakers on the shore, but discovered it is not something that can be forced on others. The switch to want to move beyond the breakers has to turn on from within. It helps to have a companion to hold hands with initially. Then you’re at home in the ocean, where your freedom and play look like unimaginable feats of daring to those who won’t leave the shore.
A perfect metaphor for life.