When I was growing up and learning to swim, I had a lot of respect for the deep end of the pool. I could see where the shallow section ended and the deep started and I avoided the deep like the plague. In his book A Year to Live Stephen Levine says “We are motivated more by an aversion to the unpleasant than by a will towards truth, freedom or healing. We are constantly attempting to escape our life, to avoid rather than enter our pain and we wonder why it is so difficult to be fully alive.” To be fully alive means to explore below the surface level of our lives and delve into the deep. But this is scary. How would you live if you knew that 2011 was going to be your last year?
How did that sentence make you feel? Uncomfortable might be a likely response. The question is why? Most times when things make us feel uncomfortable in our lives we busy ourselves with stuff to do. We distract ourselves. We numb ourselves. We fool ourselves into believing that we can outdistance ourselves yet every time we think we’ve succeeded, we look over our shoulder and find that we are still there, all the baggage, all the issues, unfinished and unsolved.
My swimming instructor didn’t just drop me into the deep end when I was learning to swim. He wanted me to enjoy swimming after all. What he did was to provide me with some reassurance in the form of arm floats which would prevent me from my greatest fear at the time – drowning – as I got accustomed to my new territory. Back in the shallow, I learned to tread water and so now in the deep with my newly acquired skill I could practice.
Life is not that simple. The layers are more complex and numerous. There is not just a shallow and a deep end but perhaps a shallow and degrees of deep compartments moving from “oh this is not so bad” to “I don’t even want to remember what happened.” The thing is if we want to let go of anything in our lives we first need to accept it, acknowledge its presence, name it and then finally let go so that we don’t drown. Living at the surface of our life is no insurance that we would not drown in the very issues that we avoid. Learning to “tread water” in our own lives requires that we become more fully aware.
Awareness will begin to heal us – moment by moment – as we become more and more courageous to dive a little deeper below our surface every single day. Awareness unveils our deepest potential and gives us the clarity we seek. Guy Finley says “Before something genuinely new can appear in our lives, something old must pass. There must be a discontinuation of our familiar sense of self from which we look out into our world in order to find something we believe will renew us.”
“Real prayer”, says Guy in his essay ‘Stop running away from Real Life’ “the soul-transforming kind, is self-discontinuity. It is a conscious act of self-suspension arising from the wish for something new to occur, an act of higher understanding born from knowing that being wrapped up in the old can only produce more of the old.”
We are busier and busier chasing down our moment in the sun, and have forgotten what it means to look up and feel thanks for the light that makes our life possible. It is impossible to rush, to want to feel “important,” and to appreciate life at the same time. Commit to living a profound life. Take responsibility for being alive. Take it seriously and understand that you have the ability to respond. Your life will no longer be ruled by your compulsion to react.
Start living your life first-hand. Taste the food you eat – eat consciously – enjoy what’s in your mouth. Don’t cloud your mind with calories and thoughts of fat. Listen to the music that you have in your collection – REALLY listen. Quit fast forwarding and flipping through stations. Allow yourself to engage and experience. When you speak and when you listen, stay mindful that the fear which limits greater openness also limits self-awareness and obstructs the completion of unfinished business.
Celebrate each get together, and each birthday as though it were the last remembering that love is a great gift worth giving! Break out of the dreamlike quality of a half-attended life. Just as the exploration of the deep end of the pool started slowly as I gained the skills to cope, let us take our time in remembering that we are life itself, unfolding with each thought, each layer exposed, each feeling felt as we evolve into who we truly are, unafraid of our own depth.
Giselle Hudson is a speaker, author, and Possibilities Coach™, planting possibility seeds and helping individuals through the process of taking “NEXT STEPS” in their lives. We all have the capacity to achieve so much more in our lives than we give ourselves credit for.There’s the thing you do for a living – and there’s the thing you were born to do. If your dream is to make them one and the same – discover what’s possible for you. Get your “How to e-guide” . Place your email in the box (top right corner) and click on subscribe