Swimming to Self-Awareness
By Seth Clyman
Something had lingered in the back of my mind for the past few days. I tried not to think about it. I was afraid to, as I knew this was self-incriminating territory, but it wouldn’t go away. I didn’t discuss it with anyone, but I kept wondering. Had the baby passed away because of something I had done? There would be no better way to punish me. Just take away the most precious thing I have. Make it really hurt.
A father has every right to cry over the loss of his baby, but after many years and much thinking, I look at the passing of my child as a window of opportunity. It forced me to introspect. If my actions or thoughts had even the slightest connection with what caused me to lose her, that loss brought me closer to myself. I had no one else to look to.
I fell into a turbulent sea of thoughts and tears that spanned the gulf between where I was and where I should be – and where I could be. Deep down, you know where you can be. In this vast sea of self-awareness, you either sink or swim. You can also float or tread water, moving in no particular direction, but not for long.
The bottom line is you want to move, you want to change. The water can be cold, and you can stay frozen without moving from your present location for years – or it can be so hot that you’ll do anything to get out, but you may not end up heading in the right direction. But you want to live! Don’t let the water temperature fool you. Do whatever you have to do to change. Don’t get caught up in your surroundings. It’s a choice between sinking and swimming.
When you realize the huge gap between yourself and your goal, you wake up. Enough apathy and defensiveness – let’s see some positive action. The sea of change is big, deep, and uninviting. You feel out of your element there. You hope and grope for complacency, for some island where you can just sit on the beach with a favorite drink and a good book and relax. But no, from out of nowhere – WHAM! Sometimes you can’t get much further away from that tranquil vision. But that’s when you surface and start swimming to the other side.
Maybe if I hadn’t been thrown overboard into the ocean of tears, I would have never known I was on wrong side. Now that I know, I’m crying and I’m changing. I’m free.
Did I have to have such a rude awakening? I’m still thinking about that. And my baby; she came and went, and I outlived her, but she outdid me. To do such a thing to a parent requires a unique connection. I will do my best not to let her down.
I’m going to swim. One stroke after another. When I get into a rhythm, I’ll begin to cut the water, leaving behind barely a ripple and a few bubbles. I can do it. It’s just a matter of deciding to live.
I take a deep breath, lift an arm over my head, pull into the water, and start kicking…. I’m starting to move. It’s hard, but I know I’m getting that much closer to the other side. I sense the beginning of a breakthrough.
My baby is cheering for me. I can’t hear her, but the noise is deafening as she leads thousands of angels.
Reprinted with permission from Touching the World of Angels by Seth Clyman. Distributed by Israel Book Shop
This article was printed in Our Tapestry Issue #3, Spring 2008.