Given that last week's post was about surfing, you might think I'm obsessed with water and water metaphors. Honestly, until writing the last sentence, I would have denied that, but when I think about it, I've had a lot of water-related touchpoints in my life.
- I grew up in a city I could navigate because I always knew that Lake Michigan was to the East.
- I swam competitively in college.
- We came to Hotchkiss because my husband was hired to teach limnology.
- Here, I've coached water polo and diving.
- I've taken more photos of the lake for my #hotchkiss365 (and now @hotchkissschool365) project than of any other subject.
So I guess my relationships with water may have shaped the way I view the world, but it hasn't been one big flood. I'd have to say it's more like one of those drip-drip-drip over years deals. And that sentence sounds like torture, which this isn't; I mean it more positively.
All these liquid connections to my life make me realize I shouldn't have been surprised when I discovered that I think about my writing in aquatic terms. I've been watching a lot of learning-how-to-write videos recently. Deep into an Abbie Emmons rabbit hole, I followed one of her recommendations to another series called Lessons from the Screenplay to this particular episode called "The Soul of Good Character Design" in which one character tells another character a story about two fish.
I was expecting the oft-quoted "This is Water" lesson but heard a spin on that story I haven't encountered before. The younger fish tells the older fish that he's trying to find this amazing place called 'the ocean.' The older fish says that they're already in the ocean, to which the younger fish replies, "This here is just water. What I want is the ocean." (The photo above comes from Soul and is a link to the clip from the movie that has this story about fish.)
It's sort of a forest and trees situation, right? The story serves as a reminder that we shouldn't live only for our one big future goal but need also to notice the gifts all around us.
What a great lesson for me. I often find myself thinking about getting past the next big hurdle or making it to the next big milestone. I'm always looking ahead towards the goal, eyes on the prize and all, maybe so much that I'm not enjoying the journey. I don't want to miss out on the here-and-now because I'm focusing on the future.
Maybe it would be better for me to think of life as driving. While I need to be aware of my desired destination, I must also pay attention to the street I'm on and landmarks around me. I might drive past a pretty view or a deer might lurk at the side of the road; I should be alert to both possibilities and take time to appreciate the vista. I don't need to put all my energy into the big picture to know that the parts I'm already seeing are lovely.
Have you ever been so busy and wrapped up in your ambitions that you forgot to acknowledge the ocean all around you? Please share any stories in the comments.