I had just finished a pathetic attempt at lap swimming in my local gym. Only managing to accomplish about 14 laps, I hoisted my wet self up on the side of the cement pool, slosh, I felt so heavy. Heavy with water, anger, and frustration with the world. I sat on my butt and swung my legs in the cool water while I contemplated my latest failure. Next to me was a hunched over old man who appeared to be perhaps 100 years old and Chinese.
He moved over to sit next to me on the side of the pool. He asked “How was your swim?” I replied with embarrassment “Not so good, it’s been a while.” He began talking but I couldn’t make out much of what he was saying because his accent was so strong, sort of like a Chinese character from an old movie. The indoor pool devoured all his words and spit them out like wads of wet toilet paper. At least that’s what my bad ears heard. I did a lot of smiling and nodding.
I had to lean far to my right and twist my head around to hear him better. “Do you work? Swimming will relieve your stress.” He stated. “No, I have kids at home but they’re a lot of work.” His wide football shaped head nodded knowingly with the silly grin stretched on his face. “Your children are like arrow. You aim and hold bow, but you don’t know where it will land. They have their own destiny that you cannot control. This is not your destiny, but theirs only. It will never be yours. You have your own destiny and it is not theirs.”
We sat quietly on the side of the pool for a moment, our feet dangling in the water. I knew that I was hearing a Wise One. “Thank you. You’ve been very helpful to me. Really. Thank you.” Then I put my hand on his bare back warmly as I stood to go. “Did I lighten your heart?” He asked. “Yes, you did.” And I was so grateful for his words of wisdom and this warmth that he exuded. I asked the Wise One “Just who are you?” He quietly answered, and most humbly said “I am nobody.”
I don’t know why I needed his information; but I trust that I will. I’m not sure what the universe has in store for my children or me. It is wise and comforting to remember that, no matter how hard I try (or don’t try), my children have their own path. I find myself worrying more about their own destruction than I do fantasizing about their successes. I try so hard to spare them from pain, sickness, poverty, violence, hatred, lust, disappointment, entitlement, expectation, self-pity, hunger, everything. Everything that life gave me to put me here. Here in my very good life. I’m a consequence of all my actions and none of my intentions. I love my arrows.