Water as a metaphor for life

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What does water mean to you?

I’m not talking about the recommendation to drink X ounces a day to support good health. I’m referring to bodies of water and dipping your toes, floating on top and jumping down under.

In my life, water is a mainstay.

If you follow my blog, you may recall Water was one of my three words for 2014. I am calm and grounded at water’s edge. My black lab son Bo is also a water baby. My heart leaps for joy when he is jumping, diving and grinning in the Atlantic Ocean. Yes, he actually grins and this is a regular routine since we moved to Florida!

Lakeside and Oceanside

A man on a jetski rides slowly on the water as the sun is setting creating soft waves.

 Photo Credit: Kay Myers

The sun sets behind clouds with a view of boats and docks

In July, I was blessed to visit two bodies of water near and dear to my heart. Badin Lake in North Carolina and the Jersey Shore. Both are annual traditions and a source of good times with good friends as we relax, eat well and laugh a lot.While I was soaking up my blessings, this blog post came to mind – how water correlates to our lives.

Smooth sailing

The sun rises in a sky of gold and dark blue during low tide and a black lab dog walks at the waters edge

At times, the surface of the water is flat and calm. There is a soft ebb but it is flowing. Yet underneath? The water below is very different…turbulent, filled with rip tides invisible to the eye.

Have you met people who are easygoing even when things are not easy? They are joyful and take life in stride. They are self-assured even when life is chaotic. Challenges are turning things upside down but you can’t tell.

If you are the type of person who naturally portrays a calm demeanor when calamity is going on, I applaud you. And – I’m jealous. I tend to wear my heart, passion and pressure on my sleeve. That’s why Composed is one of my words for 2017. (Yep, a second shameless cooldeb plug).

Learning how to surf life’s waves

A black dog jumps ocean waves with a bright blue sky and white clouds

What about the opposite perspective?

A quiet calm can actually exist below the water’s surface. It’s connected and fluid. If you have snorkeled, particularly offshore, you know what I am talking about. Yet on the surface, it is choppy with endless rolling waves flipping, turning and spinning.

Have you met people who thrive on crazy and a bit of mess? They are actually energized by chaos and seek it to exist. I have a few friends who survive on surfing life’s waves. I readily admit I don’t get them but I have learned from them. Thank you for those life lessons.

Getting grounded through water

I’m finishing up a book entitled, “Mindfulness for Beginners” by Jon Kabat-Zinn. I’d like to share this passage:

“At times, when there are no currents or wind, the surface of the ocean can be mirrorlike, completely flat and calm. But usually, it is waving to one degree or another on the surface. In the midst of a storm, a typhoon or a hurricane, the surface can be ferociously turbulent. It may not even look like a surface any more. Yet even in the midst of the most ferocious turbulence, if you descend beneath the surface thirty or forty feet or so, you will find no turbulence at all…just gentle undulation.”

What kind of water baby are you? Do you embrace easy coasting when a riptide of calamity is going on? Or are you inherently drawn to surfing life’s waves and enjoy the ride? Do share…

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Edith Katz · at

Are you going to take the Minfulness Series in the Fall? Hope so!!!

    cooldeb · at

    I am definitely interested! I took the pre course a few months ago. Welcome your thoughts on how mindfulness is a tool in life education guru Edith! : )

Mary Michaux · at

Water has always been my greatest calming influence. My high school was located on a river and I learned that sitting on the dock and just quietly watching the water really lifted my spirits. I then lived in Florida near the ocean for 6 of the hardest months in my life and attending an Easter sunrise service on the beach renewed my hope that life would get better. For the past 35 years, nothing brings me more peace from my crazy life than being by any body of water. Floating in a lake absolutely is the epitome of relaxation for me as my “surfing” personality subsides and I feel closer to God than at any other time.

    cooldeb · at

    Thank you for your comment Mary. So lovely and thoughtful. I celebrate your river and ocean and any new body of water. Cheers to smooth sailing…

Ed Mallard · at

Very nice Debbie. Water is essential for life and a calming piece in this busy thing we call “life”. If you think about Bible stories, water also played an important part of the past… just sayin!

    cooldeb · at

    Agreed Ed. I also received a comment today on LinkedIn talking about the percentage of water on earth and in our bodies. It IS in our DNA…historically, geographically and spiritually. I appreciate your comment!

Andrea Spencer · at

My husband turned down a cool job and living on the water in Miami to marry me 17 years ago. It’s been a longtime goal to live on a lake because we both love lakes and I know he misses the water dearly. My point is that as rich and full as our life has been, we keep coming back to that goal, that need and its sustaining force. It’s not a fleeting desire; the vision is persistent. There does seem to be a centering that happens when you get yourself to water. We just spent a week on Lake Superior and hiking the rivers that feed it. We felt an actual mourning when we left, like saying goodbye to a person.

Interestingly, I just started Gift from the Sea last night by Anne Morrow Lindbergh so I am at the beach in my mind.

    cooldeb · at

    Water is a sustaining force. I knew after Gso, water had to be in my life and I would visualize it. I understand the grounding; I understand the mourning. Thank you for sharing your experiences Andrea.

Kevin Shoffner · at

As a Pisces I’ve always loved water, been swimming since before I could walk. Memories of my grandparents taking me on random trips to Emerald Isle growing up, learning to surf and fish in the Atlantic, meeting many of my lifelong friends around a local lake each year during middle/high school, being a lifeguard who also taught 7-8 year olds how to swim, reading under an umbrella while hearing the waves, to now catching my kids around so they don’t fall into a pool. Water has always been a part of me in some way. I want to so badly be the surfer-dude who takes the waves as they come and flow with the tide, and I think at one point in my life I was more like that – because I wasn’t aware of the dangers.
As I have gotten older, I find myself more careful and almost avoiding the bigger uncertain waters, which really makes me sad because I am constantly drawn to it. These days I catch myself walking with waterproof hiking shoes in small “safe” streams with my kiddos or in the “kiddie pool” at the local pool. Instead though I continue to long for the larger bodies of water as they really do calm me more, and I want my children to feel the same calmness.
I need more calm, I need more peace, I even need more walks near streams… I hope 2018 can bring that. One can wish.

    Debbie · at

    Kevin, thank you for your reply. I love your last graph and how you compare water in your life now as a parent. I get it. I wish you large bodies of water adventure. But enjoy those puddle splashes too with rain boots. It’s all good.

Gabriela · at

It’s interesting that I love water so much despite the fact that I’m a horrible swimmer. I think it’s because it’s unpredictable, yet calming. You can’t
control water, it does its own thing…very much like life. So, you may as well go with the flow! Giving up the desire to control is very calming sometimes 🙂

I also think people love water because it reminds them of when they were in the womb! That’s why babies get so relaxed when they’re in water.

    cooldeb · at

    I think your spot on with your child and womb reference – yes! Thank you for sharing your comment Gaby…

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