Untethered Grief & The Art of a Duck Dive

I heard yesterday that November is an Underwater Cave, a space between that holds so much to swim through.

This is something to consider. After all, I love water metaphors.

Yet it resonates with me as something much quicker, more immediate, desperate.

This year has been… well let’s just say, if it could throw anymore shit at us… and it will… it’s been a year of tumbling tides. Without going into details, my people are in mourning, this has come again and again this year not just for me but for my community. I am frankly angry at this point. I am beaten and braced for more. If my grief were a thing itself it would be the very waves carving the rocks.

So in this way the last few months feels like the bumbling surf which knocks us, one wave after another. Anyone who grew up near the water knows the wild, untethered dance of water, knocking you down, spinning your ankles skyward and sending you tumbling, churning, seeking breath as sand scratches, burning against your back.

This is what grief feels, it’s wild and uncontrolled and seems like it will never end.

One of the first things we us water dwellers teach our children is the art of the duck dive. How to align with the peaceful space beneath the chaotic surface. The ocean is the most unpredictable thing I can think of, and yet you can familiarize yourself with it as much as understanding the rhythm and power of her waves, knowing when to leap, ride it or duck down safely into the silent depth just below. It’s the timing of it that can make the difference between pain and peace.

Under the surface there is nothing. There is everything. There is fear and grief and love and everything that is humble even in a moment of having just successfully ducked safely from a rocky ride.

So in this way, November feels like a duck dive to me. Not by means of escape but in the way it demands to be followed closely. There is no escaping November. Why November? Because the holidays are approaching a new year and new decade is approaching and no matter what you’ve experienced or who/what you’ve lost along the way grief has a way of churning up not only in the moment but in the approach itself.

It can be helpful to find that secure spiritual (and physical) space to ride it out. It is even more helpful to be that secure space for others. There are measured choices required, there is time to heed, there is a lowness desired, there is a greater power to bow to.

We will peacefully find our way through it, I believe this. It’s a matter of sinking, briefly and accepting, only to rise again, faces wet and salted, like tears, against the warm sun.

Dedicated to Patricia, Stephanie and Kevin.

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