Give not from an empty well but from a well that is overflowing. Sufi prayer
Have only one rule: Be your wild, courageous, brilliant self every single day. No matter what. Leigh Standley
Here I am nestled among the pines and the lakes of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, thirteen-hundred miles inland from the cove in mid-coastal Maine where I spent my childhood summers; here I am walking the shores of the largest body of fresh water on earth, and it is the salt that I smell and the tides that are on my mind. They were a sure thing when I was young, the tides, that is — the way the ocean was either pouring itself into the cove or it was drawing back out again into the wide open sea. My siblings and I knew that the rhythm of the tides depended on the cycle of the moon, that full and new moon tides were the highest and the lowest, and that each day within that monthly cycle the time of the tides would vary. And we knew, even as young children, that the tides at our cottage doorstep brought a rich abundance to our lives, that the coming-in tides and the going-out tides each contained treasures that were ours to savor. And the low-tide treasures and those that came to us as the tide rushed back in couldn’t have been more different.
Low tide was a treasure chest for sure. As the water pulled out to sea, our small beach at the head of the cove became our very own gigantic sand box, a place to scrounge for empty boatshells and periwinkles, for sea-polished stones and green-colored glass, and for stranger things too — the soles of old sneakers and rusty discarded toys and funny-shaped pieces of driftwood. We played in the sand, dug deep holes and found the sticky gray clay underneath, created forts and castles and roads for our trucks, and when we tired of the beach, we headed for Sister Point, to the very tip of the point where we clamored over seaweed to the grandest tide pool of all. Tide pools were a wonder to behold! Mussels and starfish clung to the rocks, and periwinkles and boatshells, too, and the crabs, the tiny ones who had been hiding in the sea weed, skittered out and tickled our feet. We loved the tide pools. We loved low tide. But what about the in-coming tide?!? We loved that too! How could we not!?! The minnows and the mackerel fish whooshed in on the tide’s currents and we, the kids of the cove, swam like fish, too. Our sandbox became our swimming pool and we splashed in its waters. We floated on our backs and we dove underneath and we somersaulted and backstroked and flutter-kicked about. Life is vibrant when the tides are constantly changing. And we knew this when we were young — and I’m remembering it now as I open to this early summer here in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Even though I’m presently here several states inland from the sea, I’m feeling the movement of the tides this month, feeling two contrasting treasure chests of activities filling my days and my nights. And it’s not the pull of the moon that’s causing the rhythm of my time to be categorized in two distinct packages of richness, not the ocean pouring itself in and then out again that’s bringing me a flow of energy that is feeling ocean-huge. It’s something quite different. It’s an extended visit of family. Our son, daughter-in-law and just-about-to-turn-two grandson Viren arrived at the end of May, and, a few days later, our son flew out west for a month-long fellowship in California to write a book. Meanwhile, our daughter-in-law and grandson are here in the Upper Peninsula this month of June, alternating their time between her family’s home and ours.
I admit that I was a wee bit nervous. For some time now, I’ve been telling myself a story, that the reason that I can travel the globe with such finesse, trip after trip, each time landing back home on my feet and taking off running-and-playing at Joy Center is because I claim ample time alone. I’ve been telling myself that I need neat-and-tidy-hours-of-quiet-time-life in order to catapult out there into the wild edge of “the next-what’s next?!?”. And it’s true. I love the long hikes in the woods near my house and the hours of slow mediative yoga and the writing time where I can muse and clarify and work things out. The pauses ARE important. They bring me to that salt-soaked ocean-breeze place inside. And yet, when we were kids, we sopped it all up, the low tide exploration, the high tide splashes in the cove. It was all fun — and sure, we paused; many times a day, we paused; we caught our breath; we smelled the pines and felt the breeze — and then we forged ahead into the next moment and the next adventure, into the next tide, expecting that the good times would last.
This month, I’ve been re-vamping the story I’m telling myself. Who says that the pauses have to be drawn-out? Who says that my energy has to go way inward in order to go back outward again? I’m drawing on those childhood summers in coastal Maine as my template for this new version of what a June can look like. Our energy seemed boundless as we scampered through those spacious days in Maine. And I’ve been surprised by my energy this month. I’ve been doing some present-day scampering of my own — letting go of my zen-ordered life and allowing the tides to flow, the tidal flow of Joy Center activities which has seemed extra vibrant to me these past few weeks, and the quite different tide spent playing with grandson Viren. Yesterday, a breezy hot Saturday, in the late afternoon, Viren and I drove to Wetmore Landing, one of my very favorites of Lake Superior’s beaches. Was it because the day was extra sweet and the breeze off the water was golden against our skin? Was it because the waves were gentle and the sand was silky and the blue sky seemed to go on forever? Or was it something else that was causing me to spill over with happiness? Was the little guy helping me to remember that the world is our treasure chest and it is not limited, that we can play to our heart’s content, that the tides are bountiful and our energy can be as well?
Happy summer, everyone! Let’s play to our heart’s content!