To my fellow swimmers

"Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore."
—Andre Gide
Banish the word struggle

I've been listening to Fully Alive: A Retreat with Pema Chödrön on Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change. A prophecy for our time by the Hopi Elders is woven throughout the talks. The main theme of the retreat is about how to stay in the middle of a fast flowing river (life as we know it now) and not hold onto the shore (out of fear and be torn apart.) One line in the prophecy advises us to "banish the word struggle" from our attitude and vocabulary. The prophecy is addressed "to my fellow swimmers."

A few days ago, I took my last swim in the ocean for a while. There is nothing to hold onto in the water but the force of the wind and current. In fact, you don't hold onto that, you play with it. Wow, if you struggle in the water, all is lost. You really have to trust the water, waves and current to support you while you float or move. As for letting go of the shore, I prefer swimming with some action of natural forces (not that too much action isn't scary.)

I referred to the part about banishing struggle in one of my drawing and watercolor classes last week. If you try too hard to draw or watercolor with a particular outcome in mind, it usually shows. Trying too hard is a form of resistance, struggle. You can't hold onto anything (but the pencil, pen or brush!) while you draw and watercolor. You work with, rather than resist the process of natural forces like seeing, perceiving, remembering, and transforming through the retina, nervous system, breath and muscles of the arms and hands. The best drawings and watercolors look effortless.

Mastery of any creative expression (and life is all creative expression) produces results that often looks effortless no matter how much work is involved.

According to the teachings in this Pema Chödrön retreat, we do not let go of the shore and banish struggle to save ourselves but to be of service. Think about it.

When you let go of struggle, resistance and fear, aren't you more delightful to be around? Don't you help others more easily? Doesn't your light shine more brightly?

For me, the answers are yes, yes, and yes.
“The greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to see something and tell what it saw in a plain way. To see clearly is poetry, prophecy and religion, all in one."
― John Ruskin


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joshemari said...

Estás muy bella Suzanne en esta foto, recién salida del baño! Y tu artículo de fondo es muy interesante.
Un abrazo

Suzanne McDermott said...


Swimming in the sea always makes me feel wonderful so it's good to know that I look as good as I feel! XO