The Undertow of Life.

We all seem to be drawn to bodies of water. A walk on the beach with the waves breaking on the shore is calming for nearly everyone.  The soothing low roar and regular but varied rolling is nearly hypnotic. Walking barefoot one can allow their course to wander into the watery outcrops that extend momentarily and rapidly recede to flow under the next surge now pushing its way forward.  The softness of the sand and smoothness of the small rocks also sooth, especially as they tumble past bouncing gently against one’s feet. 

Like us, the sand and smooth rocks are the products of the unceasing waves. Waves that at times can be low enough to only silently lap at the shore and waves that at other times can crash with thunderous force.  Force enough to shape rocks into smooth stones and pummel them into sand.  Waves that can be calming in good weather, but quite terrifying in bad.

Small rocks in a sushi serving tray

In our lives there are times that we walk barefoot in the lapping waves. There are also times that we stand feet apart, leaning forward head tilted down to withstand the crashing force of waves that life bears upon us. Waves that as they approach instill doubt that we can stay standing through them. Waves that crash leaving one temporarily disoriented and with just enough time to reset for the next. Waves that can seemingly be endless, but eventually do pass. As that last tremendous wave completes its ferocious crash on us and then the shore, we realize that we are standing.  That we withstood it and all those that came before in this latest storm. We realize this storm is over and we begin to relax.  As we do, the wall of water from that last tremendous wave rushes back out pulling with it a burden of sand and pebbles. It hits us from behind seemingly in an attempt to pull us out with it into deeper water. Our feet are drug out from beneath us and we tumble in the undertow.

The storms of the past year have been especially unusual. The waves that we have each withstood are not waves that most of us ever imagined that we would need to weather.  Sorrowfully, not all of us did. As those last waves crash and you begin to relax, be conscious of the undertow, the emotional undertow. It may take you by surprise with its ability to pull you off your feet. You may find yourself very unexpectedly underwater tumbling in a surge of emotions that you might not have even been aware of. A surge that hits you, just when you thought the storm had finally passed. 

Though the emotional undertow may result in some salty water flowing down your face, it will not pull you out into deep water. The emotional undertow after any major event in one’s life is something to be aware of, something that can seem momentarily overwhelming, but something that is a healthy part of being human. If the emotional undertow hits you, taking the tumble can be cathartic. It can allow one to let the emotions from the latest storm flow far out to sea along with the waves that brought them.

Getting back up and reorienting is where your life philosophy helps you. Emotional events have real and sometimes lasting effects that can disorient you over the long term. Knowing your life philosophy helps you reorient. Without such a means, the undertow can carry you away in its wake.

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