Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Waves

I went to the beach for the first time in a long time today, and I was delighted to be in the presence of my four-year-old nephew. The big attraction was wave jumping, and I noticed a ton of things as I observed and participated in this simple activity.

First off, I couldn't predict much about the waves. I could see them coming in, and I could be fairly confident that more were on their way. But there was not a regular interval between them, and there was no way to predict exactly where they would break. Sometimes they would look immense as they approached, only to break far enough out that their impact was minimal. Sometimes they would crash against us one right after the other. Sometimes I was surprised, and once even knocked over, by their unexpected force. And the waves didn't impact everyone equally, even people standing fairly close together.

My nephew's reaction to them was also very educational. He was primarily concerned with how the waves would impact him, nobody else. It was utter playfulness. He would mostly jump to try to clear them. Sometimes he would hold on to someone, jumping up but staying more or less in one place as a wave passed. Sometimes he would let the wave carry him a little bit. Once or twice he even got a face full of salt water unexpectedly, after which he quickly wiped off his face, smiled at his miscalculation, and got ready for the next one.

As much for myself as for you, I'll just connect the dots here. Life will happen. I don't know what it will throw at me, and even if I notice something approaching, I don't really know that I will accurately predict how hard it will impact me. My experience will be uniquely my own, but I can hold on to others when I want to maintain my stability. I can let life carry me or I can exert my own effort, but I can't control anything beyond myself. In any case, I can be playful with life. I might get an unexpected splash, and I might even get knocked down, but I can stand back up and smile and get ready for what comes next. And there will always be something coming next. Something moving. Something calling me into motion.

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