I keep waking up with this song from “Finding Nemo” going through my hed. I know I often say it to students where I work and to my very own children–especially this time of year when classes are finishing, deadlines are looming, and there always seems to be one more thing.
Just keep swimming. You’ll get through this. And guess what? When you are through with this, there will surely be another thing waiting to be tackled and dealt with. Just keep swimming.
It worries me that this is my frame of reference these days. That I just keep moving and that is how I’ll get by. I think it is the getting by that concerns me: toward what end? Toward what end am I swimming? “Toward what end” becomes, itself, the koan.
I watch my daughters struggle to “become” and I wonder where they learned that, until I see that I’m still doing it myself. What will I be when I grow up, rather than who am I now and what am I doing about it?
Toward what end?
I think there’s this thing that I’ve known all along that only shows up when I look for it, very hard and with great precision. That living is not so much about the ends. It is, in all, about the means.
When I do that deep looking, I see that I’ve lived a life that is spotty and I recognize that I have not always been kind. But I also see that what I really want to leave in the wake of my life is not a legacy of perpetual motion, but one of perpetual understanding and retooling in the face of that understanding.
Or swimming. I just keep swimming.