Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Deep Waters

No wonder, then, if these waters be so deep, that we hover over them with a religious regard.

There is a gloom in deep love as in deep water; there is a silence in it which suspends the foot; and the folded arms, and the dejected head are the images it reflects. No voice shakes its surface; the Muses themselves approach it with a tardy and a timid step, and with a low and tremulous and melancholy song.


Today my friend George told me about something that had happened to him when he was a boy swimming at the beach many years ago... 

He and his friends were getting ready to go home when one of his friends started calling “Help!  Help!”  George thought he was joking- he was always teasing like that- and kept heading for the shore.  But the cries persisted and soon they sounded more like gurgling as his friend went under water.  George started swimming out toward his friend.  The sands were shifting underfoot and suddenly an undertow tugged at him and he was pulled down hard.  George went under but he kept swimming out to his friend.  When he finally reached him, George’s friend grabbed him, pushing him under to get his own head above the water so he could breathe.  George was submerged.  He started drowning…

George had basic trust.  He responded by putting his own life aside to show up for his friend.  He trusted that this was the thing to do.

Trust is the basis of altruism, our ability to surrender ourselves to be unconditionally present for another.  The word "trust" shares the same root as the word "truth".  It refers to something faithful, reliable and true.

When asked what was going through his mind, a hero will often say, “Nothing.  I thought of nothing.  I just acted”.  There was no thought of consequences, no choice to act or not to act, no sense of obligation telling him what to do.  There was just the jumping in.  Jumping into deep waters.


It doesn’t take compassion.  It takes being strong enough to set oneself aside, letting go of worrying about oneself to be there for someone else.