I thought I knew what my “word” was for 2016. I love the concept of a Word instead of a Resolution. In 2013 I chose Patience, 2014 was Moments, in 2015 I chose Gold. Each had a special meaning, and sometime around the month of October I started thinking about my “word”. I chose a word. It felt so perfect. I wanted to spend 2016 looking at that word every single day and living it. And right now as I write these words, I cannot remember the word I chose. I seriously can’t remember.
Another word came along and chose me. It tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘I’m supposed to deliver this to you.” Actually it was considerably more like a smack between the eyes, late at night as I watched this Ted Talk I had been searching for ways to be more productive and organized so that my creativity could thrive. Instead, I found a new “word”. In the middle of the talk, David Allen said he uses a concept from martial arts in teaching productivity.
“Nature does not hurry, yet everything gets accomplished. Nature seems to get a whole lot of things done, yet it ain’t stressed and it ain’t worried. A body of water responds to physical forces around it totally appropriately, it doesn’t over react and it doesn’t under react. You throw in a pebble it does pebble, back to calm and balance again. You thrown in boulder what does it do? It does “boulderness” and it does it dispassionately. It doesn’t tense up before the rock hits it. It doesn’t get all mad at the rock for having disturbed it’s calm life. It goes back to calm and balance again”
Mind Like Water. “Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless – like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle, you put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” Bruce Lee
I started thinking about water. It doesn’t matter how hard the waves crash, or how high the river rises, water always returns to calm. Water is constant. Water is essential for life. Water cleanses us, washing away the dirt and rocks we carry. Water is new.
I think the word chose me because it requires me to do some of the most difficult work I’ve ever done. I am very easily offended when someone throws a boulder into my pond. Or even a pebble. I get my feelings hurt faster than anyone I know. I think it’s because of where I’m at in my life right now, in the middle of a messy divorce, empty nest syndrome setting in, moving, my father died. So much pain and confusion. I remember reading an Ann Voskamp blog one day, and I felt exactly like this. I wondered if anyone else ever feels like this?
“How can you look healed and thickened and still feel so thin? If someone brushed by you just a certain way? You’d blue tender and sore all over again or just spill without a sound.”
Some days I feel like if someone just breathes on me the wrong way, it’s going to leave a bruise. Anxiety is constant. And all of the time I’m telling myself “calm down!” As if shouting at myself would be calming… “stop letting everything bother you so much, stop taking everything so personally”…apparently I don’t find that very easy to do. But when I paired these thoughts with water…that water can explode, rage and ravage, and then return to pure calm, I was intrigued. That water would not be offended. Even in a torrent of water, it would return to calm.
I also realized water softens hard edges after a long period of time. Jagged stones become smooth, under constant running water. With my photography, I’ve struggled with “soft water” photos. I paralleled that again to my own life…water washing over me can soften, soothe and calm the jagged edges. But it takes practice. Mind like water. I need soothing. I need softness, not only for myself, but for those around me.
Even pebbles thrown into calm water leave ripples. The tiniest pebbles leave an impression.
And yet, the calm returns. So I’ve been chosen by Water. Water has chosen me, and challenged me to learn calm. There will always be storms, water will continually move, rivers will run and waves will crash. But the calm will always return. I’ll be riding out the storms, and like water, I will find the calm.