Becoming a lake
"An aging master grew tired of his apprentice’s complaints. One morning, he sent him to get some salt. When the apprentice returned, the master told him to mix a handful of salt in a glass of water and then drink it.
“How does it taste?” the master asked.
“Bitter,” spit the apprentice.
The master chuckled and then asked the young man to take the same handful of salt and put it in the lake. The two walked in silence to the nearby lake and once the apprentice swirled his handful of salt in the water, the old man said, “Now drink from the lake.”
As the water dripped down the young man’s chin, the master asked, “How does it taste?”
“Fresh,” remarked the apprentice.
“Do you taste the salt?” asked the master.
“No,” said the young man.
At this, the master sat beside this serious young man, and explained softly, “The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains exactly the same. However, the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain in. So when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of things. . . .
Stop being a glass. Become a lake.” — Mark Nepo The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have. Berkeley, CA: Gale Cengage Learning, Large Print Press, 2000, 39–40
I love this story. It represents for me what it's like to have become a coach. I'm amazed at the amount of sadness, grief, anxiety, and general angst many people carry, and how very easy it can be to still feel fresh, rejuvenated, grounded, and whole at the same time.
Because with permission to feel, to taste, to touch, to smell, to see, to hear the whole of life's experiences, moment by moment, comes an enormous capacity for joy and love and connection. It's incredibly expansive.
What would it be like to become a lake for a moment right now? Just floating there on your back in the sun, taking it all in?
With great love,
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