Friday, February 15, 2013

Most Beautiful

I think I have not been writing over the last few months, well for a few reasons. I have stumbled into something that feels like the deep end of the pool. The last few months have felt a bit like jumping off the diving board and then swimming as far down as I can go. Far enough to reach the bottom. The bottom hasn't come into reach yet though. I keep coming up for air and going back to try again. It's not the kind of deep, underwater feeling of being in over my head or drowning. Not that kind of sensation. It's as if there is something beautiful just out of reach. Something that catches my eye at the bottom, just distorted enough that I can't tell exactly what it is. 

I have an inkling of what it is. It is something beautiful for certain. Something that I tell myself will fill me and meet a need deep within me. Usually when I believe one thing or one experience will provide this, it's been an illusion. I pause each time I come up for air and think, "wild goose chase"? The radiance of what hides down there seems so close and so real though that I can't help but keep trying to reach it. I jump back in. 

This is the best way I can think of to describe the experience of my classical Chinese medicine program. The last five months have been an up and down journey of diving in, sometimes holding my breath, feeling at once exhilarated, exhausted, refreshed and curious. There are so many parables in this story it's hard to notice each. I have a feeling in my bones though that this image of repeatedly attempting to dive deep to capture the illusive beauty below is the central story I should attend to. 

It's possible that pearl represents two things. (If you know me well you know I will end up with a third before I'm finished, but I always like to start with two. If you are in school with me then let's contemplate the Daoist nature of that at some point please.) The elusive pearl that is always just out of reach must illustrate that the object of my desire will always be just out of reach and that perhaps that is the way it should be. The second story that life may be showing me is the beauty of this form we inhabit (that can keep diving and enjoys the sensation of water on skin, the slight pressure of depth and the release of breaking the surface upon return). 

So why should the pretty thing at the bottom of the pool be out of reach? Reaching it could mean forever stopping if what we attain fills our every need. And, perhaps the act of reaching is the actual pearl? The effort of stretching ourselves just a bit further, expanding our lungs and other capacities just a bit more broadly with each attempt, is the real purpose of our journey. That said, it might be good to learn to pace myself in this. To enjoy being at the edge of the pool, sitting still, drying off, refueling. We can't live in water right? (And oh what a tangent I could go on about the significance of water in Chinese medicine and the idea of water holding a bright flame at the center, but we won't go there just now). 

This form we are given is meant to live on land. Studying Chinese medicine for just a few months has given me a glimpse of the beauty in that earthly bound existence. Well, every experience I've lived up to now has informed that too. Don't misunderstand me though, I've hated being stuck in this human body for most of my life. I've been most comfortable in my head, living day to day through my eyes and ears and relating to the world through academic curiosity. Who would have thought an academic endeavor would alter that? But it has done just that. I have stepped closer to understanding I may experience the sublime more readily and reliably through embodiment.

I may more readily and reliably experience the sublime through embodiment. I think that may be the pearl at the bottom of the pool for me - right now anyway. Next time I dive in it may be something else. Maybe we never reach the pearl because it is something different each time we dive in.