This winter break I had the opportunity to sit on a beach. It was too windy to do most water activities, so sitting on the beach it was. Then I caught the crud that’s going around…the beach was a great place to be while my lungs cleared.

The truth is, I have not had the opportunity to slow down in quite some time. Every break has been taking care of family members. Every break has been filled with tough decisions. Every break has brought me further and further from myself.

At the sea there are often warnings for a strong undertow. The ocean looks the same, but there is a current that will quickly pull a person under and take them out to sea. It is a mighty force that cannot be readily seen from shore.

2018 pulled me out to sea. It was unnoticeable even to me until I sat on the beach for a week in stillness. I knew the year would be tough – I knew my father would die at some point in the year. I shored up my mindfulness practices. I galvanized what I know of grief (too much), and I spent as much time with him as I could.

But once he was gone, the undertow pulled me out. It was so subtle I didn’t even notice it. I was so busy just surviving: filling myself with “meaningful” things at work, creating time spent with others, using physicality to work the pain and grief through my body.

But now I know. All of this was the undertow – I have been pulled out to sea. I have been unmoored and now must begin the long swim back to shore.

The swim for me will involve taking stock of what is really necessary, letting go of some things, some people. It will involve tapping back in to my own vitality and self study to gain better clarity about my dharma so I can make more integrated decisions about what fills my cup. And most importantly, it will involve spending lots of time with my family.