I am a leaf on the wind. Watch how I soar.
Horace “Wash” Washburne
Of all the great lines in Joss Whedon’s Firefly series, this is one of the best.
As Wash flies through an epic space battle, fraught with instant death producing shrapnel and fire, beset on all sides by his enemies, he repeats this mantra over and over. Nothing within his control, but soaring none the less through the turmoil of the events. The most dangerous option was to do nothing and in “the onset of pain…clutch and sink.”
Growing through this experience I am often buffeted about by the currents of thinking, feeling, and experiencing. Little of how the consequences have fallen have been directly under my control, not even my thoughts and feelings. “The mind secretes thoughts,” wrote Tara Brach, “like the body secretes enzymes.”
All I can do is be open to the possibilities of changing currents and make new choices in the light of the moment. Too often I sense my grieving keeps me focused on things outside my control. However, with time and loving intention, my grieving gives way to a renewed focus on my own patterns, roles, choices, and opportunities. I may be a leaf on the wind but if you watch you will see how I soar.
I really like how Victor de la Cruz at My Geek Wisdom defines the expression.
Geek wisdom: It’s incredibly easy to psyche ourselves out when under pressure. It’s easy to talk ourselves out of doing of even attempting to perform complicated tasks. In order to actually do them, confidence is key. We have to believe in ourselves whenever we do anything. Whether it be relatively mundane activities or extremely complex processes, we have to believe in ourselves that we can actually do it.
As your day progresses I hope you do not collapse into the turmoil and the things outside your control but instead open yourself to “the Sea of Grace that flows steadily beneath the turmoil of events” and recognize that you, like myself, are capable.
The Book of Awakening
We often move away from pain, which is helpful only before being hurt. Once in pain, it seems the only way out is through. Like someone falling off a boat, struggling to stay above the water only makes things worse. We must accept we are there and settle enough so we can be carried by the deep. The willingness to do this is the Genesis of Faith, the giving over the currents larger than us. Even fallen leaves float in lakes, demonstrating how surrender can hold us up.
We can learn from the leaves that ducks swim around. In life as in water, when we curl up or flail we sink. When we spread and go still, we are carried by the largest sea of all: the Sea of Grace that flows steadily beneath the turmoil of events. And just as fish can’t see the ocean they live in, we can’t quite see the spirit that sustains us.
Again and again, the onset of pain makes us clutch and sink. But life has taught me that how we first open after doubling over is crucial to whether we will heal at all.
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