I was cleaning the hot tub of the intentional community where I lived a few years ago. There was about six inches of water left in it to drain out before I could start scrubbing its walls. I flashed back to when I was about twelve years old in a bathroom at the Breezy Point Surf Club, near Brooklyn, NY.
There, a boy a few years older than I, obviously different — what would be called “special” today — was hovering over the sink in absolute drooling glee as he spun his finger around and around in a clockwise direction in the water of the one-third full sink, stirring the water until it whipped into a whirlpool and slurped down into the drain.
Forty years later, in that moment, I experienced the boy’s life inside of me as I, too, began spinning my hand above the hot tub’s drain hole. After about five minutes of spinning effort, trying one angle here, another stroke there, I gave up. The water had not drained enough to form the corridor of air necessary to bring forth a whirlpool.
At first frustrated, I slowly became fascinated just watching the space around the drain. The water was still revolving around the tub from my efforts. I discovered an occasional little indentation forming like a dimpled thought on the surface of the water that would form, recede, and then disappear as if thinking better of itself. And then another half-thought formed and faded and then another in a different place and then, all of a sudden, the water level, having sunk low enough, caused one dimple to widen and deepen at about the same rate and a corridor of air shot suddenly down into the center of the drain!
The dimple, now a donut hole of air, began undulating in a wildly chaotic fashion above the drain – still within a range of what would have to be, if measured, very well-defined parameters. It then started gurgling loudly with a powerful sucking rhythm that had enough clarity to it that I could swear I was being spoken to. Perhaps the Universe that had brought forth its life was being railed at, maybe even prayed to, who knows?
After a few minutes, as the volume of water in the tub lost its strength, when there was not enough water in the tub to support the entity, it vanished. I realized that in that string of moments I had just witnessed the whole of life — the sacred cycle of potential, a thought, creation, birth, growth, deterioration and death.
On one level, I witnessed the complete cycle of an entity. Did that whirlpool have a sense of self? Maybe. Maybe enough to call out! I realized that that is all there is, really, an endless cycle of conception, birth, life and death, expressing itself in an unfathomable number of forms, of which I am only one, and, since I am inside the experience, by extension I AM the experience itself. There is nothing other than the coming together of forces to produce a temporary existence, or entity, if you will.
Could that “special” child who was etched into my heart have been experiencing the joy of witnessing the same thing? Of course! We saw essentially the same thing, only separated by what we call time.
But that boy and me were more than witnesses to a temporary event. We were an integral part of that coming together of those forces ourselves. Without us being there that couldn’t have happened. And by extension, my experience in the community’s hot tub was so inexorably linked with my experience with that boy forty years ago, what happened to me could not possibly have happened without my experience of him.
And this very minute is the result of all these forces coming together, is it not? The beach, the boy, the sink, the community, the hot tub, the whirlpool are all forces that are coming together, word-by-word as I write this piece.
And now, you are part of a moment where all of these other moments have coalesced, except there’s one very, very important factor for you to consider.
None of this could have happened without you!
And for that, I thank you.