The river of my life has brought me to a still, shallow spot, close to shore and out of the way of the currents rushing downstream. I have bobbed here for a while, enjoying the view. And now I am aware that the banks are very near, that I could easily become tangled with the sticks and leaves that are pressed against the low branch that reaches into the water and creates this quiet pool.
My mind has been happily engaged, telling itself wise-sounding things that create self-satisfied feelings of shallow contentment. “Ah, this feels good!”
But under the surface of my mind, a tension has been growing. Perhaps it is a current that will carry me onward, into the flow. Or onto the banks of the river. I do not know.
My mind would divert my attention from it, as long as it can, with urgent matters I must attend to, and grand plans I must draw up. But the tension appears in my throat when I awake, it startles me as I tend to my children and pushes up in my chest when summer’s storms tear at the sky. My mind can no longer distract me, so it draws the tension up around me so that I become full of impatience and anxiety.
And I want to break this moment, to be in the current of the river, or on its banks, but not here, in the quiet pool, aware of what I cannot define and full of foreboding.
How I love epiphanies! I am enamored with Aha Moments. I want mine now! I demand the rush of joy they bring me, and then the quiet awareness that all is well.
Ha! Not now.
But all IS well. I have found something to remind me of it, even though I am still in the quiet pool. Without intending to, I open up an old friend, a long-forgotten book called Callings, by Gregg Levoy, and it offers me his wisdom: “It is vital to allow the tension we feel… to coexist long enough to inform us, to teach us something. If you give your soul time to deliberate, perhaps it will render an insight or response that serves your competing urges.”
And so, I am reminded to lower the volume of my mind, to allow myself my time in this quiet pool for as long as it lasts, with curiosity about where I will go next.