08.06.12 Truth & Wisdom
BY Becca Rose
I screamed as the canoe tipped over and launched me from the relative safety of the boat into the algae-infested lake water.
Of course, I inhaled that lake water and then had to swim to shore battling a coughing fit.
My friends were laughing as they dumped the water out and struggled to right the canoe in the water. I was less than laughing. From the moment that we set out on the lake, I had begged them not to capsize the boat because I’d never been capsized before. Right after I said it, I knew I had pretty much sealed my own doom. Of course they capsized us, and my biggest fear was realized. Because I wasn’t actually afraid of capsizing, exactly. I’ve always been afraid of deep water. Not knowing what’s out there underneath my frail humanity just gives me the creeps.
I had thought it wouldn’t be so bad, as most of the lake was only a few feet deep. But of course, we went overboard in the one place where it was so deep that none of us could touch the bottom even if we dove down for it. I waited for the familiar terror to set in, and grabbed my shoes off my feet so that I wouldn’t lose them in the murky deep.
I found myself sputtering, holding on to the side of a tipped-over canoe in the middle of a lake surrounded by pines. It was pretty cool, until we got dumped in. As we all piled in again, I pretended to be furious with my friends, inundating them with my mock outrage. But I found out that despite my terror of the unknown depths beneath me, it had actually been sort of … fun.
I don’t deal with the unknown very well. I like to have a plan. I like to know the plan, in its whole and its entirety. I want to know that everything will work out according to the plan, and that in the end it will be exactly as I wanted it to be. This is obviously a problem, because the universe doesn’t seem to take too kindly to my idea that it should answer to me and me alone. There are so many things I feel that I can control and it lulls me into a false sense of security. I can’t stay out of the deep water forever. Sometimes the deep takes you by surprise, and you wake up in your bed floating in the middle of it. I’ve never known what to do then, when I’ve found myself unexpectedly in deep water. Mostly I just freak out and begin to choke.
I like to think I can control my life. I like to think that if I just try hard enough and hold tight enough, I can prevent the great unknown that I fear so much. What this leads to is me cracking under the pressure and having great crying fits because I can’t make everything work the right way. I find myself holding all the tighter to my perceived control, trying to keep the unknown at bay. Trying to stay out of the deep.
Being dumped into the deep water, literally, is just a handy illustration for what life is trying to teach me and I keep refusing to learn. There are so many things I can’t control. Really, almost every element of my existence involves something I cannot possibly control in any way. I can’t do anything about people who don’t care for my personality. I can’t force friends I’ve wronged to forgive me. I can’t coerce the world into believing what I believe and being passionate about what I think are all the right things. I can do nothing about people’s reactions to me. I can’t control who will hurt me or leave me or who will dissapoint me. I have no way to prevent someone I love from breaking my heart.
And that’s okay.
All the things I can’t control were never meant to be controlled by me. The universe, life, God, whichever you will, didn’t give me that kind of power. Which is really for the best. I wouldn’t have found the joy in swimming in the green deep if I had the ability to control my friend’s decisions to capsize us.
I think instead of trying to hold on so tightly to all these things I can’t get a grip on, I’d do better to accept that sometimes I will be flung into the deep with no sign of escape. Maybe I should work on welcoming the things I fear and the things I try to prevent. Maybe I’ll be just a little bit more free.