• Nancy Lankston (guest columnist)


I throw my pen down in disgust. Today I am not sad. Today I am angry. I have been trying to finish an essay I started weeks ago, but the ending just will not come. The harder I try to force the ending, the further away it floats. It is like having a word on the tip of my tongue, but I can’t quite access it. In total frustration I head down my favorite path for a walk. I walk around the pond mentally berating myself for my inability to finish the essay. I scarcely see my surroundings. When I return to my land, I wander over to the dock, still deep into self-flagellation. I may not be much of a writer, but I am an expert at self-flagellation. As I sit on the dock, I keep hearing the sound of fish breaking the surface. Yet I cannot catch them in the act. It is just a sly, secretive flicker at the edge of water and sky that defies my eyes. The jumping fish are like seeds of thoughts in my subconscious that brush into my awareness and resist capture. The kind of thought that I am convinced would be a priceless gem if only it would surface long enough for me to catch its essence in the light. Whatever the fish are up to, they now have my full attention. I scarcely breathe as I watch the water surface, waiting, waiting. But again and again I hear the sound of the water parting to my left or right, yet I see nothing but water ripples. I finally give up and just lounge on the dock, my eyes closed, soaking in the sun. As I get up to leave, a silvery fish jumps cleanly out of the water then dives out of view right in front of me. I could swear he was smiling at me. I often catch myself wishing for what is not quite here. I push and grasp and try to force people and events to hurry up and do what I want. It rarely works out well. Buddhist wisdom tells me if only I could learn to stop trying so hard; these flickering thoughts would become crystal clear to me. And then I would know true peace. The secrets of the Universe may lie in a silvery flicker, but I will never know until I let go of my need to grasp the secret, my need to control the outcome. Now there’s a Zen koan: Let go of my need to know and I will know all instantly. If I think about that too long, my head will explode...

Nancy lives in the Colorado Rockies where she spends most days writing and hiking, always on the lookout for magic. She is is the author of A Still Place, One Woman's Journey Home and A Space for Soul.

Visit her online at nancylankston.com and sacredearthtribe.org.

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