I feel fortunate in many ways; I don't take good times or good things for granted. I nurture awareness of those things and those times as they keep me strong and anchored in the not so easy times. I've learned to trust myself so that I don't feel so thrown about when things aren't going well. In a sense I can even feel excited because those times of roughness and turmoil bring change and excitement and challenge into life in a way that smooth seas don't. Using the ocean as a metaphor comes easily as I've been a sailor, so I know the joy of sailing on a smooth turquoise sea, zephyrs gently filling the sails just enough to be drifting along towards a known and reachable destination. I know when it feels so good and so easy that nothing can go wrong. Mostly that feeling is right and everything goes according to plan. Good times! I've also seen the sea change from that benign and gentle being to a raging giant tormenting and flinging foam and water about creating a maelstrom...almost in a matter of minutes.
Have you ever seen that happen in life? Everything is going smoothly and you have a confidence in how things are and how things will be, and suddenly a small grey cloud appears. It is quickly joined by others that appear out of nowhere and they band together to form a great threatening black mass. Water spouts appear off in the distance to distract from the cloud but its oppressive presence just grows closer until the moment the winds hit knocking you off balance and looking desperately for cover. Then comes the rain. And all the while you've been distracted by this and that and hoped it wasn't happening and thought that it surely would dissipate and all would be well again...but instead you are caught with your sails up and your boat is pressed down by the power of the wind and the tossing waves. The screaming demons carried by the darkness threaten everything you held dear just moments earlier. Your ears are filled with the sound of their mocking banshee wails and you cannot even hear the sound reasoning of your own calm centre that sits peacefully beneath the boat of your mortal presence as it is tossed and buffeted. It observes with passive interest what your mind is going through as it tries to make sense of the sudden madness; as it struggles against wind and water to reduce sail, to secure the lines, to reduce the potential for damage whilst reeling in shock; acting woodenly in ways that have been learned through a lifetime of storms and sudden dangers. Holding on, tears hidden in the pouring torrents from the skies and the drenching of waves hurtling and slapped against the hull, sending saline waterfalls powered by horizontal force, knocking you off your feet and flinging you hard against the rails...
There is nothing like the eye of a storm. A brightness, a whiteness approaches...what is it?? It is more terrifying than the dark, the wind stops. The quiet. The muddled sloshing of waves no longer driven but confused. You bob about, your boat lunging this way and that while you try to understand what is happening. It that it? Is it all over now? So tired from all the struggle and just holding on and hoping to get through. Then the wind returns; and the darkness; and the noise. You feel overwhelmed but from somewhere deep within you find the courage to go on. Not because you want to but because you must. There is no choice. You just might make it through because you've made it this far. You fear hidden dangers like submerged containers thrown from ships; slack bindings allowing them to fall and sink and wallow, just below the surface, ready to tear a boat open from stem to stern, like a puny sardine can. You fear that a whale or some other denizen of the deep might throw itself in rapture at the storm and burst free of the briny to soar and land on top of you, taking you with it to a miserable and watery end. We know that all the things we fear have happened to someone at sometime...and they could happen to us too.
Our calm centre, whether we have met it yet or not, observes all this without fear or worry. All it has is knowing. Knowing that in spite of what happens, what we go through, how we behave, react, respond...however we feel or think or don't...that none of it really matters in the end. Does it hope we might draw something from the experience or grow somehow or change? I don't know. It doesn't change. It is just there with us always. Watching.
So now that I know about the calm place, I can choose to sit in it and have a sense of watching myself too. It somehow allows things to be as they are without me becoming quite so emotionally entangled in happenings; good or bad. I've known about it for a long time. It is somewhere that people go when they meditate. Now that I've found it I can go there most times. I don't know if it would be approved of in circles where meditation is something ritual or mystical. I guess I've listened to a lot of people and read a lot of theories and ideas and in the midst of all that I've found something that works for me.
In the midst of the storm that quiet place is there. You can spend a moment there to catch your breath. It helps. The you that has engaged in the struggles and felt the wind and the storm in all its strength and fury...that you will know the peace when the storm has passed. It's a great thing to be able to see yourself as a survivor. You got through the storm. Your boat is still afloat. Sails torn. A little water sloshing about in the bilges, a greasy soup flavoured with assorted flotsam, once treasures now wastage to be thrown overboard. You make a cuppa. Take stock. Start the clean-up. Do some fixing. Take a break. Make another cuppa and look at how far you've come.
Life is good. The storms will come and go. Get to know your quiet place so that you can take a little rest when you need to. Know that the storm will end. Know that you will be stronger and wiser, if a little worn and scarred. You will know that you are strong and resilient and capable of life. Go live it!