“There is a time for high tide—for being involved and active, taking risks and putting out effort to master the elements—and there is a time for low tide—inactivity and quiet reflection—and both are necessary in our lives.”
—Elizabeth Tarbox, in “High Tide, Low Tide”
This year I spent time catching up with health checkups and routine tests. The cardiac result of one test was fine, but there was an incidental finding of something on my lung. Since this something could be cancer or an equally serious problem, the next step was a pulmonologist visit and a chest CT scan to study both lungs. The doctor told me there were many possible causes for this “thing;” he would call to discuss the results.
On scan day, I was told that getting results could take longer than usual, possibly a week. I approached the week by welcoming the opportunity to live with not knowing, and to experiment with not worrying—not an easy task for me. In the past, a possibly serious health challenge would send me into a frenzy of worry, anticipating the worst and grasping at potential solutions.
Perhaps because I’ve been practicing tai chi moving meditation regularly for the past couple of years, I was able to accept my inability to control outcomes, and to focus my energy on living life day by day. Practicing tai chi helps because it slows and deepens my breathing, and its flow connects me with the universe and my true self.
My suspended interval of low tide reminds me of the bigger picture and of my approach to God and spirit. Having grown up in an organized religion with established dogma, and having rejected that approach, I am learning to give up needing to know the answers, and instead live with the questions.
The week turned into two, followed by a month with more tests and consultations. After an entire summer of scarce knowledge about a possible life-changing situation, surgery became the only viable option. Throughout the wait—and during preparation for and recovery from surgery—I practiced deep breathing and I quieted the inevitable anxious thoughts. Rather than seek quick answers, I allowed my being to live at low tide, to love, and to look for inspiration in nature. Rather than jump into “wrapping up my affairs,” I relaxed my soul, practiced tai chi, and let the questions float by.
As we go through our days, dealing with whatever challenges we face, let us live at low tide, quiet our minds, and allow our spirits to embrace the not-knowing.