Thursday, May 24, 2012

Two Seals and a Gift

Bandon, OR Beach
Nature offers an amazing gift of bringing us back to center when life feels out of balance. One of my favorite ways to explore just about anything is through the use of metaphor. How is this like that? While visiting the Oregon coast, my questions emerged something like this: How is the baby seal who strives to climb atop a slippery rock like my current situation? How is the beach covered in fog similar to my brain that refuses to clear? What of the sun that remains concealed from sight? Are my dreams hiding in plain view or are they just over the horizon?

One evening while beach combing, I paused to watch a group of sea lions gathered in the swelling tide. Eyes trained on the youngest pup, I was mesmerized by his struggle to climb atop the slippery embankment where his mother perched precariously. My maternal instincts were tugged by his unfruitful tenacity, and part of me wanted to wade into the icy surf and boost him onto the oblong pillar. Fortunately my sanity prevailed. After all, if he, an able-bodied water creature, couldn’t do it on his own, what benefit would I, a moderate swimmer at best, be to him? Nonetheless, our natural instincts are often to reach toward those we momentarily consider less capable—children, clients, co-workers, strangers—while setting aside our own care and safety in the midst.

Baby Reaches Mama (momentarily)
As I continued to observe the scene before me, I focused on the mother who lay upon the craggy peak—her pose precarious, like a crescent moon tilted on its side and loosely balanced on a rocking pebble. She appeared neither concerned about her shaky state or that of her offspring diligently attempting to reach her. Occasionally, she raised her head to look around, but then lay back to rest. She wisely knew the rhythm of the tide would ultimately ease her off the rock and into the water, reuniting her and her babe.

Recalling this scene later, I asked the questions: How is this like my calling today? Will I clear my head enough to look around and inquire: What do I need? What next? What will bring me life, rest, joy, peace, and love? Even though my initial response was to rescue the striving pup, my deep resonance was not with him... I have done enough striving for a lifetime. Today I choose to wonder how I can rise up like the wizened matriarch, peer around, and allow the flow of life to gently carry me into the sea and off my own precarious perch.

My assessment is not that the mother sea lion is resigned to her existence, but rather she has learned the rhythms of her life and chooses to go with them rather than struggle against the raging tides. Her young pup expends his energy in his own natural (and necessary) process of maturation. Each are appropriate for their time and stage in life.

Today I invite you to consider this: Where do you struggle and strain when letting go might serve you better? What energy needs to be expended to bring your life (mind, spirit, body) into balance or maturation? How is this like that? Where might nature guide you today?

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