Yesterday I started my morning walk at Country park in Greensboro and was greeted with a beautiful scene. Early morning is my favorite time because it’s peaceful and calm, and I love to see the light coming up over the horizon and then shining through the trees. (I’m an artist, so yes, cheesy things like this make me very happy). Yesterday I was welcomed with a scene of soft light and Spring colored trees reflecting on the pond like a painting on the smoothest glass.
I continued my walk along the road behind the trees that created such a lovely image, veering off and wandering on some of the dirt trails, allowing my thoughts to drift and roam. Wandering like this in the mornings helps me clear my head, and unsure why, I was a bit agitated, so a little head clearing was my mission. It wasn’t until I circled back around to the front of the water that I stumbled along a train of thought about what was upsetting me that morning to begin with. I found a little nook of water that I stopped to photograph and paused for a moment. The reflections in the water reminded me of a passage under the heading of “The Teepee in the Water”, I had read months ago in Nature’s Way by Ed McGaa. The story has remained stuck in the back of my head but at this moment it struck a chord for me, about how I view myself, my life and my relationships.
It is a lesson that McGaa was given by Sioux holy man Bill Eagle Feather. Upon looking at the reflection of a teepee in the water, the teacher offered a thoughtful view of our place in this world and in the next. The teepee reflects in the water, but jump into the water and you won’t find it there. Walk to the water’s edge and you’ll see your own reflection as well. Chief Eagle Feather was using this image to prove that there is a world beyond, and that we find our way there in due time. It got me thinking more and more about how we see ourselves in this world, and how we view our own reflections.
So I started to wonder, if when we come into contact with others around us, are we all just a reflection of our lives as we’ve lived and experienced them so far? Beneath the clothes, hair, makeup and whatever else you do to present “your self” to the world, are memories, dreams, hopes, hurts, sadness, joys, beliefs and struggles. How much of that do we ever really release? Sooner or later it all comes up for air, but I have found that we are very controlling about when and with who we let ourselves breathe around. Probably a smart move, but I’m starting to think maybe a little transparency is alright too.
I’ve been doing a lot of meeting new people this year, between a new school for my daughter, attempts at dating and finding new business contacts. I find that sometimes meeting new people can seem more like an interview than a finding a new friend or making a genuine connection. Introductions are made and then begin the rote facts about your life; general information about where you grew up, went to school, married, divorced etc. Go through this enough times in a month and you’ll want to draw up a resume to hand over to spare your breath. And if you’re like me, all of these fun facts about life are not always so fun, so drudging up old memories can sometimes be draining and a bit scary. Not to mention you don’t want to scare the other person into running quickly away in the other direction. So slap on that makeup ladies, give us your cleanest shave gents, and let’s play the reflection game.
When we meet someone new for the first time, what do they see? Can they somehow sense under the surface of the water all of the fears, heartaches, mean words, and lost dreams that we try to drown out of our minds and hide? And moreover, do they really want to? When you stop to think about it, the reflection of the trees on the smooth surface of the water change with each season, but the light always makes it seem beautiful and majestic. Whereas the pond itself is always a bit murky and dark when you get close to it and who wants to look at that for hours? Or talk about it? But, can what we reflect on our surface ever really do the trick in making a new friend, or in attracting a new partner? Scary as it is, all of that deep liquid is part of who you are, and it comes with the package, so might as well let it out. After all the surface is just an illusion, the trees aren’t really in the water, and the smallest droplet will cause a ripple that opens a chance for what’s underneath to peek through anyway. Better then to delve a little more deeply and seek the spiritual, unseen connections that lie somewhere between what’s real and what we see on the surface. If we can be brave enough to take it that far.
But on the side of optimism, what about the hidden beauties that swim and drift in the depths? Silvery fish, deep green plant life that reaches for the sun, and the fact that those sometimes murky waters provide life for everything in and around them. In a culture obsessed with outward appearances and making a good first impression, it can be easy to focus only on the image and words skimming along the top. I am learning though, that it’s okay to do more than be still and shine a pretty picture. I don’t want to be scared of the picture being rippled any more. My theory is that it’s actually easier to embrace the ripples and the waves and to accept the beauty that’s growing and moving in the deepest water itself. But, I’m still working on that.