Feeling at Ease

Photo: ‘Ocean’ by Sascha Thiele – Pixels

Standing on the shore, perhaps on a cliff above crashing waves, where even the seagulls and ravens cruise far below, or right there at the level of the waves, my shoes settled into wet pebbles; I feel the mist traveling on the wind. And I feel close to something.

I feel the presence of the sea but—not even in imagination—am I riding those waves or sounding the depths of the hidden world beneath the sparkling whitecaps. I’m just on shore, feeling something.

I wonder if I’m looking for something, or just standing there surprised that I’m not looking for anything. Perhaps this is what it means to feel at ease, simply present for what’s happening and for what’s not happening. Not jumping on board an imaginary boat with its sails holding tight to the wind, its rudder and tiller gripping the water. Not slipping through waves, smiling as passengers crowd the railings above and shout to one another, “Look at the dolphins. That’s why I came on this cruise.”

I’m just standing in the middle of my world, wondering who I am and why I’m here. Not even wondering, just here, showing up yet again with a mind that is thanking me for letting it have a vacation, if only for a few moments, from all the worry and expectations, all the regrets, all the constant bailing out of water that is just the ocean in whose origins I am naturally buoyant since I am 70% sea water myself.

Thinking and feeling seem to be like that too. My thoughts and emotions slosh into me from a world that is meaningless except for what I think and feel about it. And as the world confirms and corrects how I relate to it, it’s easy to forget that there is a kinship, perhaps even an identity of wholeness, between what I consider ‘me’ and what I consider the field across which I am tramping.

I feel grateful that I have been given this vehicle made of water and stardust, which allows me to hobble over the wet stones of my days. But I’ve noticed that I grow tired of that hobbling when I treat my stories as all there is, and treat the column of water and dust as the only vehicle I have in which to travel. As I sit down on a natural couch of stone, perhaps forged in the age of the dinosaurs, to pause and rest, I realize that it’s not just my body that needs rest. It’s not only the effort of carrying this envelope of seawater across stones and fields, uphill and down dale, which is exhausting. I’m tired of this constant bailing out of all that is not me from the enclosure I call ‘myself’.

If only for a moment, I pause and, unbidden, a deeper breath flows into my chest, reaching all those pockets that ordinarily remain closed and unused–shelved on the sidelines from all those years of smoking–and a burst of pleasure suffuses my spine and head, as they receive the news that everything is still working, still ship-shape and ready to settle in; there’s no need for a transformation or a transfusion. I have all the water and earth and firing neurons I need to welcome the mists of the sea and to let them carry me into silence; beyond the borders of all I could ever capture in the net of my wondering.


About Michael Gray

I first started studying TSK in the mid 1980's and have since attended a number of retreats and workshops at the Nyingma Institute, in both TSK and Buddhist themes. I participated in the life-changing Human Development Training Program in 1991, and upon returning to Albuquerque co-founded an organization, Friends in Time (with a friend who has Lou Gehrig's Disease), which continues to serve people with similiar disabilities. I contributed an essay to "A New Way of Being"--the last one in the book--in which I describe how learning to honor who I have been has broadened and deepened my openness to present experience. I live in New Mexico with my wife and two sons.
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