“It is not what you look at that matters, it is what you see.”
~ Henry David Thoreau
Love is the greatest source of pleasure and pain ever created by the universe.
It proves to us we are alive, and gives us a reason to look at ourselves through eyes full of both clarity and clouds of tears. It sums up the human experience, provided we experience its opposite. Such a relationship between love and fear allows us to know who we are.
In love, we can both experience the sureness of solid ground but also the impermanence of our own foundations. We can observe the unsteady security of where we stand, and we can easily lose our focus unsure of our own existence. We can seek the safety of the ground while flying high above the clouds, and once landed seek to fly again. We can feel grounded while floating among the stars if for only a moment to realize that the ground is nothing more than a figment of our imagination. The real glory lies here among the stars…if only I could shut my mind down long enough to see them.
The mind’s purpose in this seems to be to both define and distort love. When I see the mind working and I ignore it, love stands as the foundation for my life’s purpose. I feel love, I am in love, and I know where I am clearly and without reservation. When in mindless focus, I hear the voices of the past dictate to me what this is. The mind creates stories, withholds truths, plays games and creates conditions by which love is, and surely this distortion creates the suffering that only lovers know. We create conditions, we create stories, we play games and then we suffer from them.
So, you come upon a pond. Its still waters are inviting because you feel a thirst within. You walk to its peaceful shores and kneel to take a drink.
You pause, seeing its beauty you don’t want to disturb. There is such tranquility, such peace and such beauty in this place that even through your thirst, you take a moment to soak it in. Soon, however, the thirst takes over and you cup your hand to drink.Photo by Tom Grasso
You break through the surface of the still water creating ripples that extend far beyond where your hand meets the water. You drink, feeling the coolness of what the pond offers travel all the way down into your soul. You realize now how dry you were, and so you cup both hands to drink larger quantities of water. The ripples are now larger, but you fail to notice because you are now focused on your thirst. Soon, you are full of the water and you barely notice the pond at all.
Your thirst satisfied; you now realize that you are hot from the afternoon sun. You strip naked and dive into the pond without paying attention. You reopen an old wound on a rock and the once clear waters are now stained with the blood from this wound. You are now bathing in a mixture of the pond and your open wound—they have almost become one. You splash and play, creating some fresh wounds in the process.
The pond is no longer a beautiful, peaceful place but rather a place of turmoil and injury. You lose sight of what drew you here in the first place and become selfish in your need for more. The once calm shorelines of this pond are now rough with the wakes created by the action/reaction of flesh, mind and water. The waters, once crystal clear, are now clouded by the silt stirred from the bottom and the blood from wounds created in mindless activity.
Soon, you are near drowning with exhaustion, and you begin to fear the pond. You barely make it back to shore when you collapse.Photo by Tom Grasso
You look at the cloudy waters of this now rough pond and you wonder what ever led you to such an ugly place in the first place. You dry off, pick yourself up off the sand and travel onward until the thirst returns. The pond becomes still again, and the silt once again settles to the bottom, revealing a calm, peaceful, pristine place. Another traveler will soon be welcomed here, drawn by the beauty of this place.
We all have a choice when we find our pond. We can’t help the stories our lives have created in us. We cannot help the wounds we bear from our journey. We all get thirsty, and we all want comfort. Yet, we often find our search for satisfaction creates the opposite in those we cherish the most. We aren’t satisfied with just a drink, we need the entire cup. We aren’t satisfied with the immersion of ourselves into the cool waters on a hot summer day—we need more. We aren’t mindful of our actions and the reactions they cause. We forget that the pond has silt on its bottom, and we have our wounds; mindlessness only seeks to activate both.
We all have a choice to make in our own relationships. Remember what drew you to her in the first place. Remember the beauty of this pond and the reflection its stillness provided. Remember that your story is only important if you make it important. Your wounds will only reopen if you push them to break and if they open, they only matter if you allow them to bleed.
Drink from the pond with care. Walk in, but do so with peace in your purpose. Sit, and enjoy this place and the moment you have. Allow it to embrace you, to comfort you, to hold you up and offer you a place to relax. When the winds come and the waters become rough, allow it to be without your wounds being opened. Sense that “this storm too shall pass” and that what drew you here in the first place will return. Remember that the tears that you shed become one with this pond. Be still as often as you can be. Enjoy.
This is the lesson I have learned painfully over the past few months. I realize that I don’t want to leave this place, that exhaustion, too, is impermanent. I love it here, and I want to be here in the stillness and peace that love provides me. It’s beautiful here, and in knowing this, I can only ask for forgiveness and healing as I wait for the waters to become peaceful again.
Editor: Brianna Bemel