Finding Level

I’ve been thinking about one of those toys that people keep on their desks.  You know, the things you get for  co-workers or relatives when you don’t have the slightest clue what else to give them. “Well, I know that they have a desk.” Personally, I used to have a bunch of Funko Pops on my desk. I don’t have room for them now, so they’re in boxes in a closet.  Because everything changes even when we don’t see it coming.

Anyway, the toy I’ve been thinking about is called a liquid wave paperweight.  There’s liquid in an acrylic case, and then sometimes there are things inside floating on the liquid. This one is the Titanic (fitting).

But you can also get cute penguins surfing or a sailboat (or other things, I imagine).

So, what you do, is you tilt the paperweight and the water sloshes around and that makes the things inside the paperweight slosh around too.  Sometimes they float on top of the water, but sometimes they get swamped. They usually bob right back up to the surface after they take a little ride, unless they get broken and it doesn’t work right.

The reason I’ve been thinking about these paperweights is because when they are tilted forcefully, or maybe dropped on the floor, the water sloshes around violently and the figure inside sloshes around violently and it can take a minute or two before everything comes back to level again.  Which is kind of how I’ve been feeling lately.

I’ve spent the last few months sloshing around in a liquid wave paperweight, waiting for things to return to level. Waiting for whoever is tilting the paperweight to stop. But that hasn’t seemed to happen yet and everything keeps sloshing around.

Yet life still has to go on, in spite of everything everyone is facing and dealing with. A pandemic and social upheaval doesn’t change that. It just makes it harder. It’s hard to feel creative when you’re busy wondering whether or not you’re going to have to cut apart an old sheet to make toilet paper because people are hoarding and the shelves are empty. It’s hard to dream when you see so many people suffering and frustrated and angry and afraid.

Slosh, slosh, slosh. Days wasted wishing that damned paperweight would stop.  But it hasn’t.

The other day, I finally remembered the truth. The paperweight never really stops moving. Ever.  The liquid in our little paperweight is always moving.  Life is always changing.  Reality is a dance of movement and change.

Sometimes it’s just a ripple and we fool ourselves into thinking the water is calm.  Then there are times like these. The paperweight falls on the floor with a crash and the liquid moves violently, tossing the little figure inside it up and down. The illusion of calm is ripped away and we are left afraid and angry.

I’ve been thinking that maybe the answer is not to wait for the liquid to stop sloshing.  You’ll be waiting forever for that. The paperweight will not stop tilting.  But maybe the answer is to ride the waves and keep bobbing to the surface.  The Titanic in the paperweight doesn’t sink unless it is broken.  Unlike the figure in the paperweight, most of the time I have the the option of choosing whether or not I break.

Maybe the key is that you have to find your own level in spite of it all.  In spite of the paperweight tilting and the water sloshing. Maybe the better plan is to be the penguin and surf the waves.  After all, finding level doesn’t mean being in stasis. You can maintain your level in the midst of movement–you just have to find your balance.

So that’s what I’m trying to do.  Be the penguin. Find my center.  Find my balance.  Find my level.  Ride my waves.  And be kind while I do it.

“Fear is the cheapest room in the house.
I would like to see you living
In better conditions.”

― Hafiz



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