Most mornings, when I’m at home, I stroll down to a local rocky beach, coffee in hand, to begin my day in meditation. The beach is a pleasant 15-minute walk from my house. When I reach the water, I step from the asphalt onto a gravel path that meanders through trees, past thickets of blackberry bushes, and ends in a secluded cove facing east, towards the rising sun that crests over the 1200 meter ridges of the Brittania Range, the mountains that make up the eastern edge of the inlet in which I live.
I began visiting this spot regularly the day after my father died. This beach, in all its varying weather and seasons, became my sanctuary for healing and introspection. Whether on a sunny summer morning or during a dark, rainy winter day, it offers a place to simply be. It’s a space where I am held in the vastness of the east wall of Atl’kat7tsem/Howe Sound, where I sit still, observing the ever-changing dance of the waves, wind, sky, and sea. This spot is undeniably a container, but it is one that’s vast and overwhelming, akin to entering a cathedral. It’s a space so grand that my presence doesn’t alter it, inviting me instead to enter and surrender.
There are containers in our lives that we create with intent and control. There are emergent containers, birthed from many small collaborative actions. Then, there are containers like this one, pre-existing, ancient even, that hold us and are accessed by deliberately crossing a threshold that ushers us into a different state of being, thinking, and feeling.
Having a space like this in one’s life is beneficial, as many of the containers in which we work, live, shape, and co-create are embedded within much larger ones, over which we have little control or influence. The practice of surrendering to a larger context helps us fully immerse ourselves in a place and moment, to quiet our minds, rest, observe, and experience. In doing so, we also discover our inner reactions to our surroundings.
Maybe you have a place like this, or you can find a place like this. It might not be the mountains of a fijord, but it could be a forest, a park, a lake, a field, or the heart of a bustling city. Go there, observe, listen, and notice how little your presence in that space changes it, but how much you are influenced by it. Consider the audacity of imagining how you could affect or change it. Familiarize yourself with your humility and insignificance.
Our work in the world requires us to dance between the spaces we make and the spaces we inhabit. We can dance between these spaces and we can witness the dance of these spaces with each other. And all the while, we inhabit our own little containers of thoughts and feelings and intentions and motivations, every so subtly shaping and being shaped by dancing space.