I have a friend who juggles her writing job with her own fiction writing, being a wife and mom, homeschooling her daughter and a hundred other things that come up in her day.
She recently starting taking swimming lessons and commented that “she can do nice, efficient strokes or remember how to breathe properly, but doing them both at the same time was going to take practice.”
I love when an experience shines as a larger metaphor for something else going on in our life.
When I was in Phoenix earlier this month, I spent an afternoon with Marika at the Phoenix Art Museum. My favorite piece was Yayoi Kusama’s interactive installation, You Who Are Getting Obliterated in the Dancing Swarm of Fireflies.
To experience the piece, we entered a dark room that had thousands of fiber optic lights suspended at different heights from the mirrored ceiling to the mirrored floor. The walls were also mirrors, so the lines of reflecting lights extended forever, like a big city skyline, like the solar system, like an ocean of fireflies.
I went in first and the darkness was disorienting. I had no concept of where I was in the space. I took small, tentative steps, my arms extended and waving in front of me so that I wouldn’t walk into a wall. Marika walked slightly behind me, her hand on my shoulder, as if she were a blind person being led.
The thick strands of lights brushed against my legs, across my shoulders as we moved further into the room. It was like walking through a fairy tale forest of hanging colored vines.
The lights dimmed and changed from blue to red, yellow to green and we ooohed and aahed at the expanse of lights that seemed to extend into infinity. Sometimes we could see our reflections on a far wall, but more often, we were walking nearly blind through the sea of hanging lights.
“I know there’s an exit,” I said. “I saw the sign before we came in.” She doubted me, but followed my lead. But I couldn’t find the passageway out, so we made our way back to the entrance.
We walked around the outside of the room and I showed her the exit sign I had seen. “OK let’s go back in,” she said.
This time she led. I held her hand as we walked between the dangling tangle of lights. She moved slowly but confidently through the maze of colors, pointing to the shadow of us on a wall, laughing when a strand of lights trailed across her face. “Look over there.” She pointed to a glow of orange on a far wall. “It reminds me of that sunset on the beach.”
She led us through the changing colors toward a large rectangle of dim light and suddenly we were standing in the main gallery, next to the exit sign.
Of course, the metaphor of it all is not lost on me: How I, with my usual cockiness, thought I would lead us through to the exit. My sureness gave her the confidence to follow me, but it turned out that SHE led ME through to the exit.
And in the larger metaphor, after spending three weeks with me in the RV in California, she is now telling people that, yes, she IS moving there. She also says that it will take some time because there is a lot to do to make it happen.
I am constantly surprised and amused by this dance we do, the give and take, the partnership of it all. How we walk this journey together, at any given time one or the other is able to take the lead and the other is willing to follow, with trust and faith and so much love.
What experiences serve as larger metaphors in your life?
I’d love for you to share your experiences – just click on the Comments below.