Everyone has a voice, and a choice to use it well, use it poorly, or not to use it at all.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Like a Stone on the Water

I love analogies. They allow my mind to apply abstract ideas (which I don't fully comprehend) to real, live, breathing things (which I understand a little more fully). As I considered the way men and women of vision and purpose live, and searched for an apt analogy, the water examples immediately came to mind. You've heard them : "swim against the current, not with it", "go with/against the flow". But they are just so worn out and tired that I thought it would be a pity to put them to work yet again. Besides, they don't quite do justice to the idea I have in mind.
Consider the floating swimmer. Wherever the current goes, he will go. His job is easy, but he has no control over where he will end up. Next, imagine the woman swimming against the flow. Her job is very difficult, but she has more control over where she goes.
Lets add in a qualification . Lets say the flow is moving in a bad direction. A floating swimmer would not like where he ended up. If we imagine things this way, it is clear that both the "swimmer" and the "floater" will, in the end, arrive at an unpleasant end. Even the swimmer will eventually tire. I don't want to be either of them.
I want to be like a stone, skipped on the water. Unlike the "stone on the water" in the Killers song, the elements would not decide my fate. I would be thrown/sent/propelled by a force much greater than any found in my little rock body. My success, course, destination would not be determined by me, but by the thrower/sender/propeller. As a stone, my only job would be to allow myself to be thrown.
What would the life of that stone be like? It is constantly in close proximity to the deadly current, even in some way connected to it. It is not, however, immersed in it or subject to it as the swimmer and floater are. It sends many ripples across the water. These ripples speak a very different testimony than do the strokes of the swimmer, or the inert apathy of the floater.
The swimmers' strokes are, more than almost any other common human movement, a pure fight against death. No one dies once they stop running, or once they stop eating (at least not very soon after). But if the swimmer ceases his movements, he will be dead within a few minutes. And so the testimony of the swimmer is: my purpose is to not die.

The floater's apathy could arise from two different mindsets. Either he has given up trying to reach his desired destination, or the current itself is his destination. If he has given up, the testimony is: my original purpose is too hard to attain. If his destination is, ridiculously, the current (this describes many of us), his testimony is: I am content to "go with the flow". That doesn't seem so bad until we remember our qualification - the current leads to a bad place.

The ripples of the skipped stone say: I am on a mission, I am sent by a sender and guided by a guider. I am on the water, close to it, but not enveloped in or controlled by it. I have a destination.

If guided by a strong hand, the stone can travel upstream, downstream, or across to the other side. Consider the effects if the Hand was good, and wise, and strong, and purposeful. What an exciting and effective life the stone would have! There is literally no place it could not go, no thing it could not do. Of course it wouldn't, at the core of the matter, be the stone doing the "doing". Still, I imagine it would be much better to be the stone than the swimmer or the floater.

You have probably noticed a few cracks in my analogy - fissures where it doesn't apply accurately to real life. Humans are much more complex than stones, and life is much more complex than water and current. Life is more complicated than any analogy. Maybe my love for them comes from a desire to leave complications behind and enter a simpler sphere. I guess that is what we are all shooting for to some degree. So, pick up this analogy. Weigh it in your hand like a stone, feel its texture and nature. If you like it, keep it. If not, drop it on the shore.

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