Learning to Float
I always loved floating, knowing I was totally relaxed and safe on my back in the swimming pool. Later, in the waves of the gentle Indian Ocean, I felt the same boundless freedom and joy, with nothing to hold me back.
When I was older I encountered the Atlantic and the story grew rougher, heavier and more ominous. The sun hid behind dark clouds and was a long time showing itself again. I pushed my way, buffeted by storms and big, fathomless deeps below me, filled with gap-jawed monsters. The depths threatened to swamp my small strokes and to pull me under, salty seawater in my mouth. If I drowned, who would notice out here?
I felt an affinity for other drowning souls, the ones I passed in circles to nowhere. The times we met, we would wave at one another, exchange a joke and carry on swimming.
One evening, just as the sun was setting over the horizon, a small double-oared boat came. I was hauled out of the water into unfamiliar, warm blankets and handed a mug of warm tea. It felt very unusual and I suffered from emotion sickness for a while longer, as my legs, thin and wobbly beneath me, learned the painful art of taking their own weight again, finding strength and standing as tall as I could: I just had to push myself upright and after a few tipsy wobbles, there I was, with the rest of the dry crew.
But I was unused to life on dry land. Like a fish out of water, I missed the wet – the depths of sorrow teeming with slippery, quicksilver life – that felt so real but slithered away out of my grasp. It took a while to accept that rooted trees were valuable allies in the battles on land. To learn to look up and enjoy seeing their branches unfolded above me, especially when I noticed colours again. Yellows, oranges and reds became such a cheerful change from my usual blue. The heart pinks that blossomed in the arms of trees in Spring, brought home the value of love and friendship.
I marched forward with the rest of them and worked on smoothing my stride. It grew longer and more confident, though my body remembered going round in circles, feeling familiar slapping eddies that went no-where. As I pushed at sands, they rose in front of me. I struck at roots, at edges and ledges. I pushed past, always searching. I tripped and fell, though I moved forwards, always on the way to somewhere and something else. I hardly know what I was searching for.
I made out lamplight that burned constant and cleanly over the landscape. It brightly promised hope which I reached for, and answers for when I might stop to listen. Always the answers waited, in the piercing brilliance of the light, which gave me hope and courage to keep searching when evening came and darkness fell. With each declaration of strength, “I am strong. I am powerful. I am peace” my light shone brighter. The ripples these beliefs sent out – first resistance, then acceptance led me forward to a different knowing.
Each statement we make is like the arrow shot over the bows of our “difficulties” and landing in the soil of our fruitful future. It is our soul task, to flex our muscles and state benign beliefs strongly. As we move, we select and refine our choices. That we can do, seeing our choices all around us, after familiar eddies of disbelief come and go.
Regardless of which sea we swim in, we can learn to float again on the currents of our desire. Learning to float again, we do not need all the answers. We only need to decide what we choose, and the rest will come, so long as we can wait peacefully. A peaceful life is a happy life. A contented life is one that accepts. Accepting what we are, what we have and what we desire, we are in a state of allowing, and All comes to us in the best way it can.
May 16, 2014
Fran Macilvey acceptance, assumptions, awareness, choices, conditions and diseases, disability, fire escape, stereotyping, waiting Fran's School of Hard Knocks 8 Comments
Recently, there has been a rash of fire drills: one at my place of worship, another at my husband’s work and one at my daughter’s school. I heard that our evacuation was “slow” because one of our elderly members walked down the stairs. And we have a lot of stairs at our Meeting House. It is a complicated business, arranging a fire evacuation, requiring room sweeps, checklists and timings.
Our elevator is mainly there to help those less able. But, in the event of a fire, I have always been taught not to use the lift, only to use the stairs, the traditional fire escape with the steps round the back. I can manage them fine, but I take longer, so, l would normally be instructed to collect with other less able users, remain in a place of safety, and wait to be evacuated from the building last, so as not to hold up other able-bodied users on the stairs. If I hold up those behind me, I risk getting crushed.
Set test drills against what might really happen in a genuine emergency, and a whole new range of possibilities raise their heads. Less able users may be authorised to use the lift if the fire was well away from the lift shaft. In a ‘real fire’ scenario, I would be reluctant to await rescue, fearing that I might be overlooked.
My husband, who has arrested hydrocephalus, was, a propos of his disability (which is not something he ever discusses with anyone, not even me) instructed to move to a designated place and await collection, just as if he were a piece of lost luggage. His disability in no way affects his speed of travel, and, like me, he disliked being singled out for this dubious attention.
It might be possible to stipulate that every building should have two stairs, one for use by the able bodied, and the other reserved for use by the less able. But if there are two stairs, the users of the building will insist that they use both, and in a real emergency, I don’t fancy trying to stop them, do you? I would not want to, even if I could.
Perhaps it makes sense to evacuate the less able users first. Of course, that would take up precious minutes. So, I guess that means we less able users will just have to take our chances. Don’t fancy it, though.