Stumbling In Shore Waters

Standing waist deep on the shores of the ocean, a huge wave splashes against me just as I stop to look out at the kids playing in the water a small distance from me. I lose my balance and I fall over, and as I try to get up another big wave comes my way and pushes me off-kilter. Ouch! I stumble forward into the rocky surface beneath me. Laughing – a joy bubbling from deep inside – a feeling of being a kid again arises. As I keep trying to stand up and keep falling over, salty water goes in my mouth. My husband, always amused that I seem to never close my mouth and keep laughing whenever I’m enjoying time in the waves says, “Payal,  why do you keep your mouth open?”

“Something about the mix of water, bare feet touching the Earth, no contact with devices…”
South Pointe, Miami

 Just as I respond, “Whaaat?”, there comes another wave and the same story unfolds again… I finally regain my balance and stand, jumping up to ride the waves and falling away as the waves pass and continue their journeys to the sand.

Enjoying this ride up and down with the ocean’s infinite waves, I forget about my stumbling, falling into the water, and hitting the prickly tiny rocks. I stop to peer at a ship I see in the distance and… bam! Another wave hits! And the cycle of my stumbling and regaining stability begins all over again. 

Something about the mix of water, bare feet touching the Earth, no contact with devices, and being tossed with the water brings me to a place of accepting the ups and downs of stumbling and getting up with so much laughter. Expecting and accepting the force of nature – which is greater than any human – one to which we will break if we do not surrender is somehow so joyful, freeing, and simple.

But it’s not so much the case when we step into the ocean of our experiences. The ways of the world unfold and we are often tossed, we stumble, we fall, we begin to regain stability… and the cycle begins again and continues throughout our lives. No matter how many times this happens, we are upset, stressed, frustrated, angry, and feel like why me yet again? And then we settle into a calm joyful state just before the next wave hits. Unlike experiences with nature, we hold expectations of what our lives should be like as they unfold. Waves of difficulties affect all of us and we more often that not lose our child-like simple composure. The wisdom arising from our surrendering to nature leaves us.

If we had gone to the beach with the expectations of sitting in the warm still waters with waves coming our way when we wished for them, then we would be upset, angry and overwhelmed by being thrown around. We would build a nervousness of when the next waves may come and whether we could survive it or not. But we expect something very different. Well, actually, we don’t really expect anything at all other than sand, water, and sky and being embraced in the arms of Mother Nature. We don’t know if there will be rain or shine, wind or stillness, large waves or small waves, cold water or warm water – we just don’t know. So what is there to expect? And if there is no expectation, then how is there any possibility of falling short of our wishes? We accept the stumbling with joyful laughter without fear of what is coming next or if we will be able to stand – and we don’t get angry at the ocean if we are crushed by a wave.

Action for this Post: 

Until next time, when I will be posting a meditation in which we embrace stumbling on the shores, let’s all begin to practice surrendering to what we cannot change and being fluid like water – rising, falling, and changing course as need be. If a larger wave hits, we remember that it’s just a matter of time, patience and effort before we climb out of a stumble or fall.

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