I've been enjoying my summer break with my annual trip to Gulf Shores, a Connected Learning MOOC, and dipping my feet into the research I plan to do as a doctoral student. Still, I've had time for introspection, especially late at night.
I've thought a lot about different ways people approach life. Some seem to be content to splash around in the shallows, while others submerge themselves into deep water. Neither approach is necessarily better than the other, but they are distinctly different.
Many people prefer the predictable nature of the shallows. They ride the waves and frolic in knee deep water, letting laughter cover up disappointment and sorrow. There is nothing wrong with enjoying the shallow waters; I spent a week doing just that in the Gulf of Mexico and loved it. It is refreshing and happy. It is safe and requires little risk. It is easy to maintain a protective shell in the shallows, and there is plenty of company to help share the burdens of life.
Others choose to dive into the deep waters, leaving the surface to find the beauty of the unknown. In the deep is adventure and purpose and meaning. Sorrow and betrayal are keenly felt, but the rich experiences bring deep and abiding joy. There are risks, to be sure. Going deep means being vulnerable, and vulnerability is scary. Fewer people choose the deep, so it is often a lonely journey. But there is meaning in the deep that the shallows cannot convey. There is a stillness that requires meditation on both the tragedies and comedies of life. Exploration of the most difficult places in the heart is unlimited, and no moment, sad or joyous, is left unattended.
I choose the depths. I get hurt, it's true, but I also know joy beyond happiness, satisfaction beyond superficiality, and a sense of becoming real. I can't fault those who, for whatever reason, prefer the shallow water with its safety and predictability. I just know that, although I don't mind the occasional visit there, I could never be fully and truly myself in a knee deep life. I need to ponder the depths of emotion and philosophy and thought. I need to understand why the waves crash the way they do, and how a stillness is possible beneath the choppiest sea. Deep calls to deep, so the Psalmist says, and I must respond. It's who I am.