We Are Skimming Stones
Here on the surface we spend our days concerned and busy with the mundane and the ordinary. We become entangled in the systems of the man-made world. Shops and bills and gossip and politics and racism and misogyny and fear and hate. These things, issues here up top, are shallow and unrewarding and keep us trapped. We think it’s so important that we don’t make that cake for the two men who love each other, we can’t stop talking about what the famous lady was wearing, we obsess about the latest fashions, the latest scandals, the latest closing in of the collective consciousness that can’t see beyond the limits of its five senses, or the limits of its own prejudices, or the limits of what it read in the newspaper, or the limits of its bank balance.
There’s more than just this surface reality, but most of us have become so calcified by the hardening effects of this shallow surface world that we scoff or refuse to engage with other possibilities beyond what we can see or hear or be angry about. Or buy or eat or shout at or dull our senses with. Carl Jung pronounced “below the threshold of consciousness, everything was seething with life” and if you think that you’re living up here on the surface, just wait until you see what lies beneath.
But you already have.
We are stones, set spinning at birth, skipping along the surface, skimming the threshold of consciousness. For the most part we skip along, only rarely touching the surface. Some don’t touch the surface at all, and spend their entire human lives in the shallow world up top until they stop spinning and plunge into the depths for ever. Their first experience of that other existence coming at the end of this one. Then they’ll see what they’ve been missing all this time.
The rest of us, to one degree or another, bounce along, skimming stones, and every night when we sleep and dream we get a glimpse below the surface. Every time we have a profound experience we momentarily break through to that other world before bouncing away again. Every awe-inspiring sunset, every moment of wonder, every smile from a stranger, every piece of art that we enjoy, every time we explore our imaginations, when we listen to music, when we stop to breath and be here in this moment, when we truly engage with our senses and really, really feel something.
On the other side of the fluid boundary between this world and the others we get a chance to see how blessed we are, how tiny we are, but how we are connected to something much bigger. We are part of a continuum that stretches out in every direction, through time to the past, through dreams to other levels of consciousness, through the earth and the universe to every atom in this plain and beyond. It’s here that poetry lives, it’s here that meaning is found, and it’s here where we find value in our own identities that extends beyond what car we drive or who we voted for or how angry we got on social media. It’s here that the we dance with the eternal koan and consider the question.
It’s here that we can suddenly understand the importance of a single brush stroke, and the insignificance of the rules of men. And the further we swim, the more we indulge and the longer we linger, the less important it becomes back on the surface, on the material side of this ethereal divide.
But we return, nonetheless, because work is work and bills need to be paid, and if we can bring a little bit of it back with us, then we can make this shallow world less shallow. We can share a word with someone who needs it, lend an ear so someone can share, choose to understand and not judge, give encouragement to a stranger and know that love is love and it transcends everything else. Love has the power to change our world. More powerful than money, stronger than border walls or the fear of the other, instead of dividing us for profit it will unite us for joy.
One by one, we will all come back with a little bit more of this, and we will glance around and catch the eyes of brothers and sisters who’ve also glimpsed the other side. And we will share knowing smiles because in a hundred years, or maybe a thousand, or maybe ten thousand, it will all be changed for the better and everything will be seething with life. Above and below.