He’s a regular visitor on our vacations, Monsieur Seeker. Though it’s a private beach, anyone is free to walk the Bay’s shoreline, thankfully. So, there is a lot of peaceful foot traffic and some curious things too, like Monsieur Seeker. His preference for water exploration brings to mind Jacques Cousteau, so, for the purposes of this story he is a Monsieur and not a Mister. M. Seeker has appeared regularly since 1978. I’m making the assumption he’s the same man, however, like me, he has changed over the years. He seems older. So am I. Who knows? If M. Seeker is more than one person, well, it only illustrates my point better. We are all seekers. He simply has a preference for precious metals. Sometimes M. Seeker walks the beach with his metal detector, other times he takes his seeking into the water. This year he was all decked out in a diving suit and carried a large net in addition to the metal detector. He looked like a hybrid Inspector Gadget (for accessories), Dr. Doofenshmirtz (for originality) and Aqua Man – the Grandpa years (for obvious reasons).
What was curious this year was M. Seekers’ proximity to others, namely, my children. More precisely, in a roped off swimming area. I saw him approach from the West. I paused a few moments in reminiscence with my younger selves acknowledging the familiar scene and taking in his new gear. Then, I turned my attention back to the book in my lap. When I looked up again, M. Seeker was standing near my children. It’s a big Bay. Very few people were in it. It was warm, but overcast and a storm was brewing to the North. Logic subdued my mother-lioness. I thought to myself: The probability of lost items and, therefore, the opportunity to lift lucky loot must increase exponentially in a swimming area. The space for the area changes every year, nonetheless, it was late in the season. Anything there would likely be less than 6 inches deep. “Huh.” I said out loud to myself. Odd and curious were quick judgments. He wasn’t minding the humans well. Very focused the Monsieur Seeker was. I remembered I had my phone in my bag, so I took a picture. The moment struck me with all sorts of themes: seeking, searching, boundaries, perseverance, persistence, tradition, and adaptation. Then the metaphors: diamond in the rough, grains of sand, and so are the days of our lives…..
It would be easy to simply judge M. Seeker and move on with my day but I would miss the beauty of his aquatic sojourn. Though I see him once or twice a year within a 7-12 day span, for all I know, he combs this beach weekly. Some may find this hobby dorky or freeloading. Judgment aside, we can also inflate the value of his effort. M. Seeker could be returning items like rings and necklaces to adjacent vacation homes and resorts, raising capital for a cause, a service oriented non-profit, to care for his parents or an ailing wife. The same wonderings could also (in the theater of our mind) turn to something unflattering like, money to wager in a dog fight, gifts for his mistress, or money for liquor. And so it is, in the mind. We do it all the time. We make stuff up and construct a belief around it. As so it is with seeking. We make stuff up and construct a belief around it.
We seek and search, consciously and unconsciously, throughout our lifetime. It shows up in our daily life, peppering our day and then so, our behavior (verb and feeling state modifier). And the long-standing orders hover below and beneath, potentially sandwiching us in search-mode. What do you seek? It could be an hour of uninterrupted quiet, to finding the perfect item of clothing from the closet to suit the mood and day, a need for a new raincoat or the most efficient juicer or SUV. And then there are the more pervasive searches, like friendship, approval, love, adoration or the meaning of life (not the Monty Python version, though I highly recommend it). Sometimes the seeking comes inside out, but it’s the same really, it just sounds like this in the head, “what I don’t want is….” [insert personal seek here, like pain]. As the maxim (Millers) has been shared with me many times by a Wisdom Keeper: “It is easier to see what is wrong than what is right.” It’s brilliant. Such a grand distortion it is. The idea of what we don’t want defining the path of our seeking the way a sign points to something, but the sign itself isn’t really the something we are after.
As I lay in bed last night, feverish with strep throat and too awake to sleep but too fuzzy to read, I flipped on the tube. I quickly found two movies I had not seen before but had heard of: Sweet Home Alabama (SHA) & Leap Year (LY). I was able to flip back and forth between them and felt as if I had watched two complete films in the end which gives you an idea of the their caliber. Nonetheless, they had their gems. And I was so grateful for the diversion. Initially, I thought Leap Year would be a sci-fi film. Nope. Young good-looking people seeking meaningful companionship and a connection to passion for life… in Ireland. And, when I switched back to SHA, same thing, only in Alabama. I wouldn’t have been surprised if the two casts had merged at one point, somewhere in between, like in Bermuda. Anyway, the film arc can be distilled down to one word: seeking.
I did a quick review of television, books, all media…everything I could think of in my strep stupor and figured out the meaning of life, then fell asleep abruptly but not before seeing Monsieur Seeker in my mindscape mining my bedroom floor. I woke up and forgot it all, except the movies and this quote from SHA: “It’s what happens to sand when it’s struck by lightning … You just have to dig it up. ” (sand turns into beautiful glass, sea glass or Fulgurite – different from the images shown in the movie which were actually artisan made). I am certain the metaphor was intentional, which gets a nod of approval from me. The lesson?Well, it could mean a number of things. My preference is: what we are looking for we already have. We just need to unearth it, for ourselves, inside ourselves. Now, if I could only get Reese Witherspoon as the southern belle, Melanie Smooter, out of my head. Funny thing. We have the same birthday, Reese and I. And Melanie Smooter has the same initials as Monsieur Seeker. Huh. Medication sometimes makes insignificant things seem significant.
I will leave you with a lesson I have learned from the masters, the Wisdom Keepers.*
Lessons from the Wisdom Keepers #17 – If the peace you seek lives inside the mind as an idea, as expectation or outside the self as a personal belonging or object, your happiness will not live within your heart. You will not possess it, it will possess you – like a carrot dangling precariously on a stick, always at an arms reach away.
*The lessons are my understandings and translation of the wisdom shared with me from many elders before they leave this plane after letting go of mind, ego, body, identity…