When have I ever thrown out all the rules? Never, I think. I’ve never managed that. I skirt them, yes, do that all the time. But abandoned myself to trust? That’s just plain too scary.
I inhabit the halls of logical thought and rational conclusions. I applied myself strenuously to my studies, but calculus was an easy A+. Equations have a measured weight, an absolute reliability. Trust is not required.
I’m more inclined to trust the rules than to trust myself, to rely on raw facts than to trust my feelings. I’ve never felt good at instinct. Give me a plan, I’ll make a list, navigate the map.
Yet, my heart is an eager explorer. At heart, I want answers to questions much tougher than calculus. I want quantum physics.
What happens in death? What happens to the world when the oceans warm up beyond the known temperature range? How do I mend a rent in a relationship with a friend? Why are humans so cruel to other humans? What is it like to be a caterpillar and then a butterfly? What does it feel like to walk on four thick paws? Or soar on the wind? How can I ask for what I need when I’m not sure of it myself?
None of these questions find any solidly conclusive answers to rest in. Nothing definitive or absolute in which to chart a course or make a plan.
One of my most memorable days began by me downing a beer. An innocent tossing aside of the rules, a throwing off of convention. I proceeded to help Markie Sharkie, a long time friend and highly competent river guide, tie his boat gear down. I pushed us off. He oared into the muscular current of the chocolate brown waters of the Colorado River. Tall walls surrounded us, held us in their clasp and, yes, we had a map. Despite it, we would flip that day at the most dangerous rapid, one of the most fabled waves of the watery course—not part of the plan. A flip at Crystal would never be part of anyone’s plan. But Markie seemed magnetically drawn to everything that could possibly go wrong. He locked his gaze on that pulsing powerhouse vee of water and pushed us directly into that curling wave. I felt it all in slow motion, the tilt slowly becoming irreversible despite every effort to right the raft’s course. I saw it all before it happened. Out of the corner of my eye, saw my husband explode into motion along the bank, charging for his boat, knowing too how inevitable catastrophe had become. Yet in me lay an utter stillness, a calm, a trust. Not so much that I would live. But that it would all be alright.
There is calm within the storm. A place in me that knows how to step beyond the calculations and formulas to simply trust life. I’d like to live there more. I think being in this place requires a certain surrender to what is, not necessarily a detachment, but a stepping aside. Far enough to distance ourselves from the blender of activity whirling us inside it.
The river of life is bigger than us. We do what we can to row our small vulnerable craft along the safe and sane course, but there are times that peace lies in trust, in our limitations, in going forward into the mystery with no more than open eyes and accepting heart.