|photo by dulichtetcampuchia.com via googleimages|
The heat of the sun softened everything—colors, sounds, even feelings. I was an easy almost sloppy happy in an undefined, muted-edge kind of way, my long hair free to tangle in the sea breeze, my bare feet covered with bits of sand, my spirit feeling more like an unattached, wind-blown cloud than the responsible Peace Corps Volunteer that I was. I looked out across the shallow tropical waters toward my partner who was fishing intensely with a friend, their rods flying back and forth like whips, determined to catch what they had never caught before. I was about to sit down in the sand when a bit of wood caught my eye. It was small and dark and mostly square with a wad of fishing line wrapped up around it and a fishhook on the end. I smiled to myself as my feet led me to the end of the dock.
The water was clear and warm. I didn’t see any schools of fish but I did see an occasional loner, a maverick who wasn’t afraid to swim his path alone. My easy happy kept giving me new smiles—me, the maverick not afraid to swim her own path alone. I was just like the little loner fish. That yellow one. The blue one, too. And even the stripped one. They were all so pretty, so rare, so exquisite in their colors and shapes and how they frolicked in their carefree happy, an expression that might have even reminded me of my own. Maybe I wanted to visit their world. Maybe I wanted to see the hook catch the sparkle of the sun. Maybe I just wanted to extend my fingers with the help of an invisible line and a tiny little, unthreatening hook. So I let it down, that little hook, gently down into the depths of that magical, tropical sea with the fishes, the fishes that seemed like pure joy to me.
I might have been singing a little love song. I don’t know. I might have been daydreaming of new stories to tell. I’m not sure. But I do know my heart was open to almost sloppy, and happy, happy to be exactly where she was meant to be with not a need or a worry anywhere around me.
Until he bit.
He was the most beautiful I had ever seen.
‘Reel him in,’ my partner yelled, ‘reel him in!’
And when I couldn’t get him free any other way, that’s exactly what we had to do.
‘Please don’t hurt him,’ I begged.
‘What did you use for bait?’ they asked.
‘Please don’t let him die,’ I pleaded.
‘Did you rattle the line or let it sit still?’ they poked.
And finally, we got him up, and after protesting that his fate was my choice, not theirs, they agreed to set him free.
* * *
When we focus on the good things in life, on the things that beg us like a bubble bath or a squishy chair, or maybe even a tropical beach, to stay awhile, to be embraced by their comforting arms, we smile from a deep place. And when we smile from a deep place, when our minds are set free because we’ve given the reins to our hearts, we get as close as I think we’ll ever be to flying, flying free. And when we feel as if we are flying free, as if we are soaring through even a small blip of our day, we know, deep down, that we are where we were born to be.
That is when the true riches find us.
For many of us the door with ancient, priceless riches on the other side appears locked. But this one, the door to the feelings we all wish to have, is only off limits until we remember that we have always, always, always held the key.
We just have to be where our hearts long to be and suddenly, we are flying free . . . exactly where we were born to be.