There is a sink full of warm water and mostly clean dishes in my kitchen. I was washing those same dishes last night when I took a phone call (my older sister Emily calling me back) – talked for an hour – then went off to do a bit of reading before falling asleep. The dishes sat overnight and were added to by breakfast. It wasn’t long into re-washing the dishes that I felt compelled to capture a moment for which I am quite grateful. Sitting down to write this post, I’m looking at washing these dishes for the 3rd time tomorrow.
Mid-week this week I found myself fessing up my honest take on some situations to two of my confidants. In allowing myself to be brutally honest, I realized just how critical I had become. Even though I wasn’t always expressing this sentiment, it was in me. I was humbled by what I looked like: going on and on about how inefficiently people communicate. All of these situations were truly opportunities to show compassion. And truly in all of this, there was a distinct opportunity to show myself that same compassion. I was reminded of a poem by Fleur Adcock (check it: here) and really took a minute to breathe and allow myself to be how I am. I have a bad habit of comparing what I like and find entertaining or noteworthy with what others may like and find entertaining or noteworthy. It felt good to experience some complete whole breaths of self compassion. And thus lay off everybody else who is just being who they are.. interesting concept, right? (I’m laughing – because of how sure I am I have solved this puzzle before and how certain I am I will need to solve it again.)
Thing is – I came across something tonight that I haven’t had before (though I swear I have but I can’t remember) for which I am grateful. Really really grateful. It was like being given a key.
I took my daughters up to the pool at about 4:45pm. For about 2 hours, I did what’s typical: socialized with other moms, read (here’s what I’m currently on my 6th attempt to read..) and answered my children’s inquiry “when are you getting in” with all sorts of creative milestones “when I get to page 93” – “when my heart is ready” – and (most commonly used) “when I get hot”.
Around 7:30, when Ellen got out and said she was bored, I pulled out a deck of cards. After a couple of rounds of Go Fish and Rummy, the night sky had completely fallen. The pool lights were on and making the water dazzle like only a summer time pool can on either a humid August night or one of those magical mid vacation nights when you know longer know the date. We both started joking about jumping in with our clothes on and before long, in one quick movement, I dove in and began a completely different experience.
Swimming in the dark with the world lit up below us, I started to feel something really super familiar. I had flashes of feelings from my past but without images or stories.
I felt lucky. I felt really loved. I felt a sense of simplicity. I felt I could go on forever. These feelings were fleeting, but over and over while jumping around and playing nonsense games, I would get them. Flash. flash. flash.
I started out on a lap to the deep end of the pool where I planned to go over to the ladder and climb out to meet my towel. The flashes continued. Without thinking, I found myself stopping at some point in the deep end, keeping my eyes closed, plunging down under the water and letting my knees hit a bend after my feet hit the floor. Pausing. Exhaling. Then coming up for one breath, keeping my eyes closed and going down again. In recalling this, my motions continued as if on auto-pilot.
Over and over again without opening my eyes, I felt this incredible feeling of nothing. I wasn’t an adult but I wasn’t a child. I was only myself. I had no age. Just the feeling of warm water over my whole body then stillness. A part of my inside was laughing at the joy and the freedom. The secret of buoyancy and its power to let you leave the demands of the every day physical reality in which we live. For a parallel, it was nothing like driving: where you’re behind a machine and watching lights, cars, and trying not to text.
My mind started getting busy trying to grab words to describe how happy I was in this and sure enough I lost it. But now I know I have this spot – now I know that there is a familiarity in water that takes me to my inner most place where I am not even “Erin” but I am my soul. My non-critical, very curious, full of wonder, and quite generous soul.
It’s just draped in lightly freckled skin with eyes that are (at the moment) pretty tired and in a body that has dishes to do.