Still Water Runs Deep
By all outward appearances I think I seem like a typical middle aged guy. I have just over two years before I qualify for an AARP membership (50 years old, I believe). In my head though, I possess the vitality and looks of the 18 year old bag boy at the supermarket. It is amazing how old my high school friends have become while I remained an adventurous rock climber, triathlete, and distance runner with obvious rugged good looks and the vitality of my late teens.
So, I joined a softball team a while back. I think I was turning, or about to turn 45 years old. I'm not sure. I can't really remember as well as I used to. I had to give it up after a couple of weeks though because, well, I hurt my thumb. It hurt really bad and for a long time.
So I started jogging after too long of a period of "I'll get back to it tomorrow". It went well for a couple of weeks until, well, I hurt my hamstring. It hurt really bad and for a long time.
"The gym, that's what I need" I thought. So I went to the gym and started lifting weights. That went really well, for a couple of weeks. Then I hurt my shoulder trying to lift too much. It hurt really bad, and for a long time.
"Well of course. Kayaking, that's what I really need". I bought your basic flat water kayak. Well, for most people it's a basic flat water kayak but this one was different. It was to take me to far away adventures in places that only young, rugged outdoorsy guys go. I took it to a lake a few miles away and paddled in some of the wildest white water known to exist in the untamed wilderness of Goffstown, NH. The cool thing was that if I got in to trouble I could just stand up in the water. I woke up the next morning with a really stiff neck and sore back. It hurt really bad and, yes, for a long time.
Then, well, yes, then it happened. As adolescents often do, Paul pointed out with brutal honesty that I had been talking about getting in shape and losing my belly fat since we met. About four years at that point. What really hurt was the day my mom came to visit me in California, long before Paul's honesty. When I opened the door she blurted out clearly not intending to, "wow you got fat". That hurt really bad, and, as you can imagine, for a long time. Actually, it didn't really. You have to know my mother to know how uncharacteristic that was of her. But it was honest.
Okay, so get to my point right?
Yup. A Taoist phrase captures it pretty well - "In the world of knowledge, every day something is added. In pursuit of the Tao, every day something is let go". Ah. That hurts really bad. And for a long time. Let go? Let go??
I'm not sure I want to. What's wrong with forever being a 29 year old marathon runner with 4% body fat running miles at twice the pace I can now? Well, nothing, until I wake up. Then I put my feet on the floor and feel my legs and think about how I really need to do more hatha yoga, but not too much of course because then it will hurt bad, and, all together now - for a long time.
Letting go. That's a tough one. The irony is that when I can, of course, I'm filled with joy and freedom. It is like having a little pool of water in the palm of your hand. If you squeeze too tightly, you lose the water, if you simply remain still, allowing the nature of water to be, the water remains.
Joy is the same way. Chase it for too many miles or through turbulent waters too long and it hurts, and for a really long time. But accept what is, forget about what was or what could have been, and not only is the flat water more peaceful, but an entirely new world opens before you. Suddenly, rather than speed or distance, you have depth. Looking within the water reveals a beauty visible only to those willing to let go of the paddles and sit quietly. And as is often the case when one lets go, the waters reflect smiling eyes and a deep sense of joy.
So, do I get discounts with that AARP membership?