Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Whirlpool and the Interconnectedness of Life

Black and white circles of Tao

You never step into the same whirlpool twice went through my head while one of the whirlpool jets was giving me a much needed back massage. There was a limit of thirteen people per whirlpool (a biblical number as well as one of superstitious precaution) and at that particular time there were six, including me. Everyone was minding their own water space and paying little attention to others.

In fact, that was all right with me. The whirlpool is my personal treat for fulfilling my given laps of swimming. I always go and do this alone and treat it as a serious and focused endeavor. In other words, I go with the hopeful intention to get myself into a somewhat acceptable body shape, and more often than not, I end up walking out refreshed while slightly sore.

So I rarely, in fact almost never, strike up a conversation. I see it as a strict and unwavering business deal I have with myself and not as a social event. I do not go to meet people or to chit-chat or philosophize. The few times people talk to me I either nod or smile and generally pretend to know no English. It gets me out of unwanted conversations rather easily. I am not usually that anti-social except when I am in and around the swimming and whirling pool.

But the words I lack in speaking, I make up for in heady thoughts. Some of my (dare I say better) blog inspirations have come from and during swimming pointlessly from one end of the pool to the other. Some ideas pop up while I am sweating in the sauna or relaxing in the hot tub. This post is both dedicated to the process of my writing and inspiration while also being one of its offbeat offspring.

As Heraclitus famously stated the river we enter is never the same as moments before, and this shows us the flexibility and the constant changes of life. Every moment is unique and has its own rhythm and tune as well as its idiosyncratic beat of synchronicity. Not only do the externals change, but so do we inside. The “me” who started this post is slightly different from the one that is finishing it. Put differently, I am now different because of my contact and interaction with particles of the external world.

But I think the image of a whirlpool is even more convincing than the river. Although it is limited in space, the water is constantly whirling in front of our eyes, and it touches and leaves our skin in constant flow.

So as we are sitting each at our jet stream minding our own business, even avoiding any accidental eye contact, all this time our bodies are connected or interconnected in this fluid pool. In fact, it is a strangely intimate scene. The water that has touched me is already in contact with the person next to me. It is like the mysterious aether of old except in a liquid form.

It must have been a rather good workout that afternoon, but I felt that life was the same way: an interconnected ebb and flow of situations. We may live in different parts of the world and have our own preoccupations and stresses, but at the end of the day, the world is a whirlpool. It pulsates with life, but each action ripples across the universe (to borrow a Beatles phrase) and all this will have an effect on us as well.

Evidently, the events will differ in intensity and degree, but eventually whatever is done will have an impact on you even if you are an anti-social and taciturn whirlpooler. This can be seen politically as well on significant changes and damages we cause on our environment through pollution and its aftereffects in the form of global warming. Not to mention the veritable possibility of freely and generously sharing bacteria and viruses in the limited watery space.

But the good is equally interconnected. The happiness that we exude and sometimes create in others will also spread its vibes across the whirlpool. It will touch the person next to you. Maybe they will not be aware of it, but it has come into contact with them; it has left its imprint on their skin.

And as time goes by and lives are lived, the whirlpool is still whirling. (Do they ever change the water I sometimes wonder?) It contains and stores the memories and events, and everything is waiting to come into contact with the next person who enters its stream. And that is not limited to the living, but includes the dead and their dusty after-remains. We may believe that we are islands upon ourselves, but we are connected via water and air, and no one is exempt or left out. 

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