Manta Ray, Roland and Julia Seitre/Solent, photographers.
I sit on a moose. At the beach. No, really.
Someone built a sand moose lying on its side. Its height is bench size. It’s packed hard from the rain and holds me. M-O-O-S-E is spelled with seaweed.
I find this seat after an early morning beach walk.
A walk that began as exercise. Even though I’ve proclaimed that the beach is not a place at which I exercise, work, or read.
My thoughts are rowdy in dialogue, ricocheting back and forth creating a subtle, fidgety energy.
My mind is wild. Just yesterday I asked a question and the listener said, “You just asked me that a few minutes ago” bringing to my attention that I was not at all present.
I know it’s not just my mind that’s wild.
In Pema Chödrön's books, The Wisdom of No Escape and The Places That Scare You, she writes about why our minds take us on crazy wild rides: “The human experience is full of unpredictability and paradox, joys and sorrows, successes and failures.” It is part of what makes life grand. Pema urges, “If we can train ourselves through meditation to be more open and accepting of the wild arc of our experience, if we can lean into the difficulties of life and the ride of our minds, we can become more settled and relaxed amid whatever life brings us.”
There are many ways to work with my mind. I decide to try.
I take a deep breath, close my eyes and smell the sea, a loamy salty fragrance. I linger, intoxicated.
I sit, and think, “Who would build a sand moose? I could accept an octopus or whale, but a moose?” (I remember stopping to let a moose pass on a street while driving in Anchorage. The locals said, “A moose has the right of way.”)
Regardless, I’m glad to have a seat. I cross my legs, quiet that thought, and look out. My gaze softens.
I see scattered cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds in the distance in front of me. A rainbow appears in beams of lit rain. The colors in the arc glow red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet, then fade to lighter shades.
Light plays with the rainbow. The colors saturate and fade, again.
The clouds wisp, the prism of color twinkles. Dissipating clouds change grey slate to a teal blue sky, which shows its effect on the water. Blue becomes sea foam green.
Then right there where the arc meets the water, at the rainbow’s end, a manta ray leaps out of the water.
I gasp at my luck and look right and left to see if anyone is nearby to verify the sighting. No one. “Did I really see that,” I think?
And then, it leaps again.
I watch the rainbow until the clouds and color disappear. Maybe twenty minutes pass.
Here’s what’s left.
That the rainbow is always waiting for the light and water conditions that bring it to view. It’s there.
I’m like that rainbow. (I think we all are.)
Beauty and goodness are always here, though sometimes I don’t feel them, or see them.
Right now, I’m struggling to settle. I have moved from Florida to Ohio to Texas and now back to Florida. I know moves are like this: newness, loss, change. I feel like my skin is itchy—it isn’t really—it’s just a jittery sense. An awkward energy. I forget that to be human is understanding that everything changes. Everything is always in flux.
A flying manta ray poses a wake-up question: “Susan, how will you use this struggle to increase your tolerance for instability and change?”
Pema (this time in her book Living Beautifully) references her teacher Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche who talks about a fundamental anxiety of being human: “This anxiety or queasiness in the face of impermanence isn’t something that afflicts just a few of us; it’s an all-pervasive state that human beings share. But rather than being disheartened by the ambiguity, the uncertainty of life, what if we accepted it and relaxed into it? What if we said, ‘Yes, this is the way it is; this is what it means to be human,’ and decided to sit down and enjoy the ride?”
I realize my low tolerance for discomfort.
The rainbow reminds me that I have all I need to relax into and live the answer. To enjoy the ride.
I can embrace sitting here as a transformative process. No moralizing, harsh admonishing, critiquing or judging. “Susan, just be with the colorful array as it arises,” I think to myself. Let it pass through. Just like the light in the rainbow and the waves in the sea.
I feel my shoulders release and my mouth turn up in a smile.