January 7 - We Must Take Turns - Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening
We must take turns:
diving into all there is
and counting the time.
The gift and responsibility of relationship is to take turns doing the dishes and putting up the storm windows, giving the other the chance to dive... While one explores the inner, the other must tend the outer.
A great model of this is how pearl divers search the deep in pairs. Without scuba tanks or regulators, one waits at the surface tending the lines tied to the other who soft-steps the sand for treasures he hopes he'll recognize.
He walks the bottom, watching the leaves of vegetation sway and sways himself till she tugs the cord. He swallows the little air left as he ascends. Aboard, they talk for hours, placing what was seen, rubbing the rough and natural pearl. In the morning, she dives and fills their baskets and he counts the time, hands wrapped about her line.
Quite plainly, these pearl divers show us the work of being together and the miracle of trust. We must take turns: whoever is on the surface must count the air time left, so the one below can dive freely.