What if this IS the view?

The Oregon Coast is busy behaving like it always does. Like it’s sentient. Like it’s human. Full of consistency and contradictions tumbling in upon itself. Moody and wild and untamed. And also reliably pulled by unseen gravity to approach land and recede and approach and recede and approach and recede, like it knows it belongs in both places — on the shore where it stretches so thin it’s transparent and also in the briny depths where its weight is acknowledged for the opaque and crushing force it has the inherent capacity to be. 

I watch the ocean out here almost constantly; so much that my pupils are tiny pinpricks, and the inside appears dim, and every time I try to focus away from the crashing waves and bright foam to read a book or eat a bite of the chocolate bar I stole out of the pantry, I have to blink a lot to clear the phantom flashes of light that stick behind my eyes. I don’t want to be looking inside when I’m here. I know intuitively and experientially that something far more grand is mere feet away. My attention has a will of its own, and I usually let it play out here, abandoning the rules of focus I try (and fail) to impose at home.

It’s sunny now. And cloudy. And sunny. Literally as quickly as I’m typing. But this morning was just clouds, laden with too much water to retain, and so they unleashed their excess on us, delivered to our windows with gusting wind, like the drops were schools of fish pushed by currents beyond their control, their patterns weaving and dipping, coalescing and scattering, a kaleidoscope of change.

And my internal thought in the midst of the majesty was, “Bummer it’s raining. It’s hard to see the ocean. Hopefully it’ll clear soon.”

Which is when my friend Kathy said, “Did you ever notice how we resent the water on the windows because we’re trying to see the water in the sea?”

And I thought, “Oh.”

And then, “Oh yeah.”

And then that water is the stuff of life. Literally. But we’re so often focused on what the view should be — what life should look like — that we’re frustrated by the life right in front of us. By the life smashing against our windows. By the life demanding our attention and focus. By the life dancing in stunning combinations in front of our noses. 

Which made me wonder. What if the stuff of life that’s happening right now is not obscuring our view? What if it IS the view? What if the water we see — and the water we can make out in the distance, hazy and murky and dim — are of equal value?

What if we think about the phrase “we can’t see the forest for the trees” and think, yes; yes, it’s an important reminder to see the big picture. To not forget that what’s right in front of my face isn’t the whole thing. To remember there’s a bigger perspective than I can truly imagine. BUT ALSO, what if we reframe it and really study the tree that’s right here? What if we appreciate the tree for its beauty and strength? What if we look at its rough barky skin and feel its scars and contemplate the resilience and flexibility that’s kept it alive?

What if we can see the forest AND cherish the individual tree? What if we didn’t have to minimize one to uplift the other? 

What if we can see ourselves and our humans — our children, our partners, our friends — in all our grimy, whirling, slamming-against-the-windows chaos and glory? What if we allowed ourselves to adjust our attention away from what we expected to see so we can be present with what is? 

What if we can still turn our eyes toward the ocean and wish and long for the pristine seascape to come back into focus — because there’s nothing wrong and everything right with wishing and longing — but also note  we needn’t worry all the while? The return of seeing into the distance is inevitable. It’ll come. Clarity will be restored. 

What if, just for now, we let ourselves enjoy the rain? 

With love, and waving in the dark, as always,

 

 

 

P.S. I’m INCREDIBLY EXCITED to announce the addition of baby goat yoga (OMG, RIGHT??) this month… and also weekend mini-retreats at our very own Cairns Farmstarting in April. We’ve spent the last year and a half working and working and working on the farm, AND IT’S TIME TO SHARE IT. WOOHOO! 

One of my very, very favorite things to do is hang out with members of our incredible, worldwide community and offer rest and respite from our regular lives. I would LOVE to have you join me.

Click here for general retreat information. Or, if you want to head straight to the registration pages, you can register via my farm website, CAIRNS FARM, for any of the following:

P.P.S. It’s not raining anymore. And I’m glad. But I’m also glad I didn’t miss my opportunity to pay attention to the rain while it was here. Both/And, y’all. I feel like I need constant reminders that this isn’t a binary life of Either/Or. 

P.P.P.S. How you doing? What’s the rain on your window rn? Or the tree in front of your face? What’s the thing you’re staring at that you wish would make way for something prettier or more vast or full of sunlight? For me, it’s the relentless drag of all the tasks and humans I feel need me and not enough of me to go around. I want simultaneously to be enough — for myself and others — not to value myself based on busy-ness (or, as I call it, the Constant American Temptation), and not to make the mistake of thinking I need to be all things for all people all the time. That’s definitely the deluge striking my figurative window. So I think I need to SEE that rain, you know? Like, acknowledge that it’s there — that it’s a LOT and right in front of me and this season of life beautiful and chaotic all at once — but also recognize a) it’s not going to be like this forever, and b) I can SEE and LOVE and GRIEVE the rain without feeling like it’s my personal job to handle every rain drop or divert the storm. 

I’m not sure that makes sense. But it’s the best I can do at the moment.

You?

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
1 comment
  1. “b) I can SEE and LOVE and GRIEVE the rain without feeling like it’s my personal job to handle every rain drop or divert the storm.“

    I needed your words so much today, Beth! I’m sick – again – due to 18 months of work and home mess leveling me with prolonged stress and anxiety. And I feel absolutely deluged by a complicated situation at work that I’m trying (and largely failing) to manage. I can see and empathize with all sides of the situation, which no one else seems inclined or able to do. Finding my way to loving AND grieving without feeling responsible for everyone else’s behavior is just what I need to be striving for/allowing to be.

    Thank you!!

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