Back a number of lifetimes ago, when I lived on a boat and the sea would rock me back and forth every night, I used to keep my eyes open for habour seals.
One morning in particular I spotted a happy seal diving down down down before I’d see it again, its dog-like face smiling fiercely into the rising sun. This was my chance.
Gingerly, I reached for the fishing rod, stepped up onto the slanted cabin and found the perfect spot to sit. You see, anytime a habour seal was about, I knew mackerel would be there, too, and I was eager for a fresh breakfast.
I took a few casts without drawing any fish. Undeterred, I flicked back my wrists as I bent my elbows and threw my hook out into the deep. Well, I tried to, anyway. The line had snagged on itself — got all twisted and knotted and pretty much useless. I hauled it back in to investigate.
The entire line had twirled into itself to become a giant mass of blueish white. And so I sat there straightening it out. I sat there as I heard the town church-bell toll the top of the hour. And I was still sitting there when it tolled again. And again. And again. Eventually, in clear bright tones, it sang out the next hour.
I had been sitting there without a break for over 60 minutes, untangling that fishing line. By the time I finished, the habour seal — and the fish that had drawn it — was gone.
I woke up in BC today, arriving yesterday after a week in Alberta. Sleep was fitful and full of dreams.
The night before I’d been in my parent’s basement, rifling through boxes of my old lives. There’s a logical chronology in my stored items that doesn’t exists anywhere else in my life. This section is from Montreal; here’s what I had in New Zealand; those are the items I haven’t touched since getting divorced; that and that are from each time at the Ashram.
Urgency drove me forward, opening boxes and taking items I think I’ll need in the UK. There must be something here to salvage, something I can take from all these lives I’ve lived. I was feeling a little desperate. The last 10 years of my life laid bare on concrete and wooden slats, boxed and bagged to keep out the damp.
That desperation wanted everything to fit together perfectly, for there to be some sort of order to my continent-hopping. I want a thread that ties it all together so I can make sense of it all. I know this feeling. I know this sense of disparate identity. It catches me when I expect it to and it comes from nowhere.
The reality is that material possessions won’t weave together the stages of a life. The thing that ties it all together is me.
Morning lifted after watery dreams, and today my heart felt like a knot. My mind began cataloguing all the reasons why I could feel stressed and anxious — and then I stopped. I’ve dealt with knots before.
With a gentle persistence, I let my heart relax and eased into the knot. I don’t have to apply for every job today. I don’t have to get into town at a certain hour and it’s okay I’ve overslept to catch the bus. There’s plenty of time to sort through the items I gathered yesterday and do my morning practice.
I worked at the knots using what I know, sitting with myself and holding my mind to some accountability instead of letting it run wild with anxious thought.
Rather than dexterous fingers and keen eyesight, I can use Light, breath and mantra on these twisted lines.
It didn’t take an hour. Eventually I untied the knot.