An honor to write and present this piece for the occasion of my daughter’s wedding celebration, Newport, RI ~ 5.27.22
When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity – in freedom.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh
When I was 21 years old, I received a copy of: Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, first published in 1955. The book, a collection of essays on life’s joy, hope, love, sorrow and courage, has been with me on every part of my journey since that time years ago. Of all the passages, the ones speaking of fluidity and movement, change and freedom were always the ones I was the most attracted to, intrigued by. My book is highlighted, pages are tagged, and many margins have pencil notes from a time long before this. Lindbergh’s words were both soothing and a mystery at the same time. With decades passing, I now read the words with clarity, understanding and acceptance.
Fluidity — the ability to flow easily. Smooth elegance; moving gracefully. Changeability. From the water in this harbor— hundreds of journeys have set forth into uncharted waters. Into territory not yet experienced. Some with few navigational tools. Only stocked with instinct and will in their pockets. And filled with an equal measure of trepidation and excitement. As the journey sets us away from the harbor — we feel unsure and unsteady. Where to? What next? What if? But suddenly, the winds nudge us forward. Along the way we are lifted, guided, and protected. Along the journey we seek and secure the sight and comfort of buoys, lighthouses, islands, and inlets — to find refuge, to recharge and to remind us of the way home.
There is simplicity and profound depth in experiencing water. Listen! Shhhh! Listen. To the water. Here around us. Under us. Always return to the water. Washing dishes in silence. A cool shower. A rainfall. A brook. A thundering waterfall. Tears. From both sorrow and joy. The waves. A river. The porcelain tub filled. The water moves around us. We move with it. It moves us. Water is life’s fluidity. Even in the darkness of winter, under the rock-hard ice of a February lake, the water is always moving beneath us.
By understanding and accepting the fluidity of life, that everything we do in a moment is flowing forward and never backwards, we learn how to accept and live in a moment. We learn that everything grows and changes. Must grow and change. Some days we feel as though we are being lifted by the ocean breeze, clouds drifting above, the warm and sure sunshine – the days we can call perfection and later in memory, still the same. Then there are the days that nearly take us to our knees, days navigating in dense fog, completely blind of what is ahead, unknowing of the best route to take and how to proceed as the water is turbulent and forceful.
In such times, we are restless and uneasy. And we turn towards home. We seek shelter and a connection. From our people – as they are forever buoys and islands, inlets, and harbors. They provide a respite, a touchstone, a place to stay for the night and warm by the fire. We share words, a meal, a hug – we rethink and rejuvenate. We stretch forward, shake off the dust and worry. And our people nudge us back to the water to set sail again. They encourage us to keep moving along on the journey in a fluid, forward motion.
Even, and especially, those beyond the veil, are always nearby, with a whisper and a light touch – guiding us, placing a bit of a breeze in our sails, gently bringing us towards the water. Washing a china teacup—or the baby in the sink. Feel the water. Dipping your toes in the ocean or running through a sprinkler. Feel the water. Fluidity, like a dance, is motion. Is freedom. Is trust in moving forward with a lantern in one hand and hope in the other.