You didn’t come into this world. You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean.
You are not a stranger here ~ Alan Watts
I have spent my life surrounded by water.
Lake Superior, the largest fresh water lake in the world, was my constant companion growing up. Inland lakes throughout northwestern Ontario were my summer playgrounds. Warm winter escapes introduced me to oceany worlds, where days were spent playing in waves, and nights sleeping under palapa’s on remote beaches. Morning tracks showed that sand crabs and other little sand creatures were only slightly inconvenienced by having to clamber over our sleeping bodies. We spend the nights lulled by the sound of the waves.
As an adult, my island homes have kept me happily surrounded by water: New Zealand’s stunning south island, wild Vancouver Island, and beautiful Salt Spring Island.
Life is like stepping into a boat that is about to sail out to sea and sink (Shunryu Suzuki Roshi).
Pema Chodron reflects on the groundlessness of our lives saying ‘the very nature of our existence is forever in flux. Everything keeps changing, whether we’re aware of it or not’.
Although we may not use the term groundlessness, we all know the feeling well. Sometimes it’s dramatic and intense ~ a huge shift or event; other times it’s more subtle, more internal ~ an awareness of the unfolding of life, the passing of time.
It’s not groundlessness that causes us to suffer, but our wish that things were different.
I’ve watched my son teaching littles to float on their backs ~ star floats. Their bodies stiff at first, heads up, ‘don’t let go’ they say. Then gradually they begin to release to the water, feeling it supporting them, and the magic of being able to float there.
I love the feeling of floating in a lake, eyes closed, head back, shaped like a star, surrounded by water. It’s especially magical to be there in the evening as it begins to grow dark. Like the littles, it can take some time to settle into it. Then with ever deepening breaths and a quieting mind, I’m floating in the moving water, and groundless.
In his bestselling book, Blue Mind, Wallace Nichols describes the science behind the value of being in, on, or near water, and calls on us to protect our water systems:
All I really want to say is this:
Get in the water.
Walk along the water. Move across its surface. Get under it. Sit in it. Leap into it. Listen to it. Touch the water. Close your eyes and drink a big glass.
Fall more deeply in love with water in all its shapes, colours, and forms. Let it heal you and make you a better, stronger version of yourself. You need water. And water needs you.
The Blue Mind Collective is an initiative inspired by the book as a way to bring together people from around the world who are committed to changing the way people think, feel, and act toward water.
In June 2017, the annual Blue Mind Summit will be held on the beautiful Apostle Islands on Lake Superior, where participants will collaboratively consider the human connection to our water planet as well as the deeply personal benefits of keeping it healthy. You can learn more about this at Blue Mind Life.