There’s a phenomenon that happens with many fresh water lakes a few times a year called “lake turnover.” Without getting into the details (you can read one of the more simple explanations I found here), it’s a process that happens when the surface water reaches a certain temperature (39.2 degrees F to be exact) and becomes denser and heavier than the water under it. That top layer sinks and displaces the water below it. This results in “new” water coming to the surface, hence, “turnover.” My husband and I witnessed it many times during our years on Grand Traverse Bay in Michigan, and there was something profound about recognizing how naturally and cyclically the lake renewed itself.
The past few weeks have felt like a time of “lake turnover” for me, and I sense that it’s happening for others as well. There’s an energy in the air of old things, old stories, old assumptions sinking and fading into deep darkness, and newness rising to the surface. And it’s not just because the new year is right around the corner. For me, it feels like I’ve settled into some new truth about myself… like I’m owning who I am more fully. I’m feeling more powerful and confident in my own skin. There’s a sensation of new waters rising to the surface, waters that are ready to face the sun and be transformed.
Another word I’ve been attaching to the sensation is churn. Things are getting stirred up. There’s a feeling of anticipation, and more than that, of uncertainty.
I’ve been listening to Pema Chödrön over the past few weeks. She talks about making friends – or at least, calling a truce – with the uncertainty that we live with every day. We go through phases of collective awareness when we say “these are uncertain times,” as if the times before were certain, and we’re looking forward to a time when things will be certain again. We’re in that place now. We use words like “recovery” and “back to normal,” as if there will be a moment when we can all go back to our regularly scheduled programming.
My theory is that we’re experiencing the societal equivalent of lake turnover. New energy is coming to the surface, and it’s uncomfortable, unpredictable and uncertain. And guess what? It’s the new normal. Every day we’re creating “normal,” choosing what it looks, feels, sounds and tastes like. There’s nothing to wait for. We’re in it. We’re making it happen.
Here’s the thing: the turnover, the churn, simply means that it’s time to look inward and outward with refreshed eyes, because things are changing. Always. We have an opportunity in every moment to shift from fear to curiosity. There’s no use in fighting it. Lake turnover keeps the ecosystem healthy and alive; the turnover that happens in our psyche is no different. Why resist what is natural and necessary?
This moment, right here, is certain. It’s what you have to work with. What are you going to do with it?
Featured Image: Traverse City, MI from the air, showing Boardman Lake and Grand Traverse Bay. Beth Buelow, summer 2011.
What do you think? Have you been feeling a churn or turnover in your life recently? How has it shown up? And how do you feel about it? What’s the opportunity? Please share in the comments!