BREATHING UNDER WATER - BY CAROL BIELECK
I built my house by the sea.
Not on the sands, mind you;
not on the shifting sand.
And I built it of rock.
A strong house
by a strong sea.
And we got well acquainted, the sea and I.
Not that we spoke much.
We met in silences.
Respectful, keeping our distance,
but looking our thoughts across the fence of sand.
Always the fence of sand our barrier,
always, the sand between.
And then one day,
- and still I don't know how it happened -
the sea came.
Without welcome, even.
Not sudden and swift, but a shifting across the sand
less like the flow of water than the flow of blood.
Slow, but coming.
Slow, but flowing like an open wound.
And I thought of flight and I thought of drowning
and I thought of death.
And while I thought the sea crept higher, till it
reached my door.
And I knew then, there was nether flight, nor death,
That when the sea comes calling you stop being
Well acquainted, friendly-at-a-distance, neighbors
and you give your house for a coral castle,
and you learn to breathe underwater.
I believe that our writing intentions and our explorations (curiosities) in life are about a desire for wholeness, for completion. Life is not a worthiness competition. Life ultimately ends the same for all of us. (Spoiler alert: we all die). On the first day of my Social Work class through the UW, I write this on the board: "You have nothing to prove and everything to learn (and share)." Just so. In our writing and life -- nothing to prove. Everything to learn and share. Everything to explore.
Our curiosity acts as our gills. Our curiosity gives us the ability to breathe under water and to be present with what is. Our curiosity, without pressure to figure things out a certain way, takes us to where we want to be. As we write and explore we will discover what we need for this moment.
Sometimes we are hit by that ocean, whether it be a loss of a dear friend, an addiction, a betrayal, an aloneness, or some other trauma or disappointment. And when we stay with it, be with the experience, write about it, we learn how to breathe underwater. And so will your readers.
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