sex, money, and miscellany: talking about what matters

the power of power

In Uncategorized on August 26, 2009 at 10:09 am

A little girl died in the ocean on Sunday near my home. She was brought by her parents to see the waves from Hurricane Bill at Thunder Hole in Acadia National Park. Seven people were swept off the ledge; most were rescued, one was lost. That was her.

The ocean is a terrible, wonderful, thing, which is to say it is value-neutral, amoral. It’s a force, like gravity, like wind, like love. It can destroy you or save you. It doesn’t know or care that you have an ailing grandmother, that you won a scholarship, that you spent three days getting up the courage to set your toes in the surf. It is bigger than anything you can imagine, and whether or not it deserves your respect, you need to respect it.

Power has two faces: if you don’t respect it, it can kill you. If you turn your back on it, it will kill you. If you meet it head-on with respect for yourself and it, and full engagement, it can lift you up and bring you alive. You have to know what you have: a hurricane ocean will re-form the beaches and strip the rocks, toss trees onto the shore and drag them out to sea. To a hurricane, you are nothing. You are not even significant enough to be insignificant. Meeting that kind of power with respect for yourself means meeting it far, far from the ocean’s edge, not because of cowardice, but because of a proper fear.

Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, reads one of my favorite bumper stickers, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup.

It’s all about perspective when it comes to dragons and oceans. But people are an interesting case. People with power, even the most powerful people in the world, are still so much smaller than the ocean, that things get complicated and confused. They might act like they can have us for lunch–but will they really? Can they really? How much of the ketchup perspective is in our heads?

How much do we and they miss out on because we or they have made up the story that they will want to have us with fries and a hamburger? What could be different if we remembered that everyone in this world needs relationship, needs connection, needs friends and honest perspectives?

When you claim your power, you claim your gifts, the ones you have for the world. You claim your place at the table, not on it. Knowing your place means understanding the difference between an ocean and a person. The person has ears, a brain, a heart. The ocean is pure ocean.

People seem to die around here more often than in a lot of other places. We dance with the forces around us, knowing that we cannot hope to lead, and we cannot truly live shut up in our houses. I still mourn. I mourn all the deaths by ocean and wind and waves, and I mourn the death of a little girl swept out to sea.

  1. nicely done. Here on the island where the little girl perished, more and more of the story is coming out that will never be in the papers… that rangers tried to move people away from the edge of the cliffs, that the people got rude and told the rangers to stuff it, and then when tragedy struck, all seemed to work together to care for the injured and rescue those swept away. Perspective is everything, I guess.

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