How Do You Handle The Pool of Life?

It’s summer and time for playing in the water!  Have you heard the story of the Princess and the Pool?  It goes like this:

Once upon a time, a beautiful princess sat at the edge of a clear, ornate pool in her palace grounds. As she leaned over to gaze at her reflection, her priceless crown tumbled from her head and into the water with a loud splash.

At the sound of her all-is-lost scream, royal attendants rushed to her from all sides. Frantically, they jumped one after the other into the pool, thrashing about in search of the precious object.

Of course, all this effort did nothing but churn the water and swirl up a lot of mud and rotten debris from the bottom of the pool. The water grew murky. The crown disappeared from view. The princess and her attendants panicked.

Now, who should come upon this chaotic scene but the palace storyteller, a bent and bowed old man with twinkling eyes.

With one glance, he took in the chaos. Rather than join the maelstrom, he sat calmly down at the princess’s side and immediately launched into a riveting tale of times gone by.

His sonorous voice wove such a fascinating tapestry of love and adventure that the aides climbed out of the pool to sit down nearby and listen raptly. And the princess herself stopped shrieking, forgetting all about the lost crown.

By the time the storyteller came to the end of his elaborate, embellished tale, everyone and everything – even the mud in the pool – had settled down.

And so, the storyteller reached into the pool, once again still and clear, and easily plucked out the now plainly visible crown.

In your life, when met with something that seems important but unclear, are you more likely to respond like the Princess, her attendants or the storyteller? 

Do you respond with anxiety and then move on to making demands, getting angry, or crying and shutting down, being SURE all is lost? 

Are you more likely to be a ‘helper’ but really end up doing things that are not helpful or actually enable the emotional UN-intelligent behaviors of others?  Do you end up feeling resentful for not having your own needs recognized, acknowledged or met by yourself or others?

Or, as in this story, can you see the un-clarity in a situation and know that sometimes the best approach is to do ‘nothing’ as the storyteller seems to be?  Now doing nothing is, as I have described in other articles, the Way of Pooh (or Winnie the Pooh, the Taoist master).  It is a way of being truly present and accepting of what is.  Not that you don’t feel your feelings but that you don’t cause further suffering, on top of what may be intrinsically painful. 

What would happen if you were to become like the storyteller and not rush in to decide that all is lost or come to conclusions you can’t REALLY know about for sure?  Can you sit with the fact that sometimes we can’t see reality because it’s simply unclear and that fishing around for answers, conclusions, or meaning can cause us more unhappiness?  Can you sit and manage your emotions in the moment in the hope that things become clearer or until you can accept that you may never ‘know’ something or find something, and then you can decide what else you can do with your life or your relationships?

Let’s take the example of being ‘ghosted’.  I’ll write more another time about the problems with this more frequently occurring, very UN-emotionally intelligent behavior but for now, we’ll use this as an example of how muddy the water can be when someone cuts you off and doesn’t or won’t explain why or what happened.

It’s very, very easy to jump to conclusions, make up stories and want to scream for answers.  Even before social media had made it easier to ghost someone, sometimes people just stop being in relationship with us for reasons we will never know.  The road to suffering is the one that churns up the water until there is no way to get to clarity.  The road to peace is knowing there is a difference between ‘knowing’ why and ‘believing’ why something may have happened.  That road also knows how to focus on gratitude for what you do have and the beauty and peace of focusing on the present moment. 

Can you sit and be with the discomfort of the murky water, hoping it gets clear but if it doesn’t, accepting that some things are unknowable?  Can you get out of your own or someone else’s pond and stop making the water murkier?  Can you recognize what is yours and not yours to handle and to ‘know’ about?

Can you sit by the water and listen to the birds sing, or feel the breeze, or smell the ocean while you wait to see if the water will become clear?  Your five senses are your best friends when it comes to being in the present moment with grace and gratitude.  

Will you sit by that murky pond for the rest of your life, hoping it becomes clear or would you get up, dust yourself off and move on after some time–whether or not you used that time wisely?  Which would make you a more wise, compassionate, strong version of yourself?

I would hope you would choose to PLAY by the murky pool of life, either while waiting for clarity or to do something FUN while you decide what to do next.  Often the answers are found in playing, relaxing, being creative, opening our mind to something more fun now, and suddenly we come up with a solution, an idea or we know what we want to do next, no matter what the pool of life looks like.  We can move on to make or find another pool that is more fun to look or play in. 

You can always contact me for help with your Pool of Life or reach out to others to help you remember how to play at the pools. 

So go out and play, leave your crowns at home, jump in puddles and pools and know that clarity will be there when you can just be there. and


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