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Not Knowing

Updated: Jun 10, 2023

I am in Los Barriles, Baja, looking at the manta rays flinging themselves out of the ocean, somersaulting in the air and flopping back into the water with a satisfying kerspash. It happens over and over, from bed at night they sound like rain drops on a tin roof. 

A manta ray is a large fish with flat, diamond-shaped body and long fins that enable them to glide through water and air. It’s not known why they jump, sometimes flying over six feet above the water's surface. Scientists speculate it might be a mating ritual. 

But I wonder if they fly this way for the same reason people love to dance.  It feels good.

They make me think about how at birth we get flung out of the unknowable sea, into consciousness. Life lasts a second of cosmic time. During this time, we dance, flip, take in the vastness of the sky, before returning into the unknown. It’s not totally clear what it’s all about.

As a younger adult I thought the purpose would all become more clear as I aged. But as the years go by, instead of feeling more clear, life seems more mysterious.

When we initially planned our Mexico trip it was for a two week meet-up with other families two hours south of the border.  We didn’t foresee we would still be here three months later and 1000 miles further south.  We've made travel decisions daily based on costs, weather, friends, and other variables.  In the longer term, our lives also feel open-ended. 

We have taken apart many of the component pieces of our lives and laid them on the table like a dismantled lego ship. 

It's uncomfortable. I’d prefer some clarity!

My friend recently shared with me her practice of offering kindness to the parts of herself that just don’t know the answers yet to what she desires to know. This resonated, as it can feel like there’s something wrong with me when we don’t know the answer to “what’s next?”

Instead, we continue to focus on what we do know. We are committed to being a family. We value community. We want to be part of a movement toward greater good.

And I sit here learning from the manta rays, dancing for reasons unknowable. During this ride we do our best to take in the glorious moments- like the square dance our friends played right here on the beach while the sunset turned the sky purple.

We try to stay kind and open hearted in the hard moments, like when fatigue hits and it feels like carrying 100 lb weights in each limb, or when we learned about the terminal illness of a dear friend.

As I look out at the spectacular rays jumping,I don’t know their purpose or mine. I have always yearned, almost painfully, to know and understand the why of my life. I am learning to make peace with the not knowing but also the yearning.

That during the flash of cosmic time I’m alive, I get to love, be loved, experience beauty and hopefully offer some too.  And that the rest is a mystery to live, a thread to follow.

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