One thing we love to do is find a place to skip stones. There are two needed elements, a relatively calm body of water and stones that are thin and flat with rounded edges. The ultimate goal is to get the stone as far across the lake with as many skips as possible. Cheers resound when our stone reaches the far side of the lake without sinking in. We count the skips. It is a past time that fills space with activity, and it is totally fun and worth while, but there is also more. Often, how we spend our time is a metaphor for our lives.
We skip along the surface of things. Unlike the stone, which slows down with each contact with the water, we humans maintain our speed, coming in contact with people, situations and events just long enough to bounce off of them and carry on. We cross to the far shore of our lives and look back with regret, because we never really let anything sink in. The places we visit make it on our tick list but we have little to say about how the landscape touched our soul. We have huge numbers of social media friends , and otherwise, but who among them can name our hopes, dreams and greatest fears? Perhaps not even ourselves. I spent twenty five years speeding from one adventure to the next thinking I was courageous and wise, until life showed me that I was not.
There is a cost to slowing down for the stone and ourselves. The stone sinks to the bottom of the lake to reside there until some grand force of nature moves or eradicates it. We sink into ourselves, to be surrounded by all of the things we have skipped over because they were too painful to be with. Perhaps it is a lost love, a painful relationship with a parent, or a friend who died too young. These things seemingly hurt too much to be with so we pick up our speed to avoid sitting with them. Yet our speed is the source of our loneliness. Much like we can't love anyone if we don't love ourselves, we can't truly know anyone if we don't know ourselves or hold a space to resolve or heal. So we fail to connect to our humanity and the humanity of those around us, which results in a deep sense of lack that will not go away. A friend of mine once said to me when I was taking a careless action, "Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone." How can we develop as human beings if we don't know ourselves?
Bill Plotkin, a psychologist who helps his clients discover their soul's journey, writes about how human kind are stuck in our development. The potential is for us to move through Childhood, Adolescence, Adulthood and Elderhood, but he maintains that we remain stationary at Adolescence. Given the state of the world and the kinds values that seem prevalent at all ages, he is right. Historical wisdom from all walks of life, prescribe stopping in nature as a requirement for our emotional, and spiritual development, which connect us to our humanity which allows us to grow. But growth takes courage.
Human beings value courage. The next courageous step for us, is to come to know the depth of ourselves. In doing this we may solve so many of the things we grapple with. Ironically the answer, is to do nothing.