Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fighting against "the current", finding the (reassure) shore...

I'm here just riding the waves ... trying not to fight the current too much. I let it take me out just as long as I can keep my head above water. I take deep breaths when I go under. I push back against the tide when I feel the sand beneath my feet and instinctively know that I can fight it and win and scramble to shore.

The ocean is a good ( maybe a little overused) analogy for a lot of life situations. My Aunt Mary has a beach house in Westhampton, Long Island. She's had it forever. Since I was a baby at least. It's a beautiful place, filled with many happy summer memories. The ocean is literally in her backyard ( and "the bay" is across the street in the neighbors backyard) and so, in addition to swimming at the pool at "The Swordfish Club" - my cousins and I went out into the ocean a lot. I always admired my cousin Megan ( a year older than me, a Pisces- so she was always a natural "fish" in the water!). We grew up together and are kind of the "sisters" that neither one of us had ( she has 2 older brothers, I have one younger brother). She always seemed to be able to navigate the ocean so well. She almost seemed "in control of it". While I was timid and flailing and always stayed pretty close to shore .... unless it was really calm.

BUT  one time when it was really calm we went FAR out... we didn't even realize how far we had gone. We saw my mom and my dad's first cousin Maureen and her husband Hank  waving their hands and cupping their hands over their mouths trying to tell us something and gesturing to us to come in. It turns out that there was a SHARK who had picked up our scent and was swimming closer and closer. We could not see him from where we were... but once we got to shore we DID! Hank is a fisherman and he didn't think that the shark was that big (not like a great white from JAWS) but it would have definitely been big enough to bite into a limb and have a snack. We still talk about that story. I think Maureen got it all on video (VHS tape- this WAS 1991-92') somewhere.

So yes, when I was younger I pretty much always knew that if I went into the ocean, I could expect to get pulled out into the undertow. It was almost as if the ocean could sense my fear,  just like the shark picking up our scent.

I remember one time, seeing a big wave  seconds away, getting ready to swallow us and hearing Megan's instructions to "dive under" (we were no more than 10 or 11 yrs old at the time - she was SUCH a pro at navigating the ocean. I love her.). I remember rolling through the waves, feeling like I was inside of a washing machine. Hearing sounds and feeling that suction. Eventually "rolling" to shore and/or feeling the hand of my mother/father pulling me up....

and right now, I'm feeling like that too.

Like there are things - sounds and motion- going on all around me. But it's muffled and hazy and sometimes I feel like I'm holding my breath and other times it feels like I'm fighting to "break through" the (language) barriers and understand this world (language).  It is a combination of light and hope and beauty dancing with darkness and dizziness and murky mud between my toes. It's so frustrating because there is Mandarin... and there is Cantonese... and then of course each area has their own "local language". So in any given social situation I could be scrambling to navigate  my way through THREE different conversations. To "pick up the scent" - the tone, the information, etc. It's exhausting and at the end of it all, you've gotta just sit back and let it happen around you. You've got to TRUST that everything is OK and that you're not missing out on any important information. (I'm pretty sure that Lisa learned the English phrase" What did you say?...." from me. Because I SAY that so often in her presence.)

Lisa sent me a QQ ( like "Chinese Instant Messenger") message the other day telling me that she was sorry that she was so late in getting back to me (to my QQ message that I had left her a few days earlier) but that she had been in Guangzhou looking for jobs. She thanked me for my encouragement and said sometimes she felt frustrated but she was not giving up the search.

AND then the light broke through. I exhaled.
The ocean was still just long enough for a little happiness to surface..

Lisa told me that once she is settled into her new job- she wants to enroll in ENGLISH CLASSES. AND that she hopes to "TRAVEL ABROAD" in the future.

(TRANSLATION: She wants to speak English. She wants to get out of China.)

I know that in my first post that I wrote here I was talking about how tomorrow is never really promised and that there is "no day but today". That's still true .... but this message was the faith and the hope and the desire to invest in a potential tomorrow.

Like fighting against the "current" (situation) and swimming to shore.

I don't know how long it will take - but for a moment I found the air and understood my surroundings.

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