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Primal Swimming by Anthony Grootelaar

This phrase from my poem Brimless Being is becoming a mantra I turn to often these days.

It’s about the need to catch every falling cup “with soft hands” and fill it to the brim “with brimless being.”

This happens sometimes when writing poetry. A phrase will swim up from some primal depth, like a gift or some pressing urge—a fuzzy felt-sense of something that wants to be known, and, in the writing, becomes clearer, although not fully plumbed. Thus it returns, as if it has more to teach.

It means different things to me at different times. Sometimes it connotes a deep kindness that reaches out to save things that seem to be lost, fallen, ready to shatter—to hold them gently in our hands, our minds, and cherish everything good about them so much they become full to overflowing.

Other times it seems to suggest catching every moment before it disappears and just holding it gently in our awareness, feeling its fullness to such a degree that the moment stills and becomes its own kind of forever unending.

Doing this when it’s still and quiet is like stepping into a pool and swimming luxuriously through it. Steeping ourselves in every sound, texture, color, scent of that still moment—breathing it all in.

Trying to do so in those harried moments when you’re full of feeling—perhaps stressed, anxious, in a hurry and rushing around—is harder. But even then, the attempt to do so creates its own magic. Even as everything around you is in a rush, the moment slows and softens as the mind merges with its surroundings, savoring its suchness. That moment melts into the next in a never-ending stream. Nothing is lost. All remains full.

Me, you, our lives, each passing moment—We are the cup that must be caught with soft hands and filled to the brim with brimless being. That’s the urgent need.

Image by Anthony Grootelaar