“I have only one thing to do and that’s be the wave that I am and then sink back into the ocean.” –Fiona Apple
This lyric comes from a song called “Container,” but I’ve always found that to be a bit of a misnomer. If I close my eyes and imagine life as a wave, I can feel myself spreading out and melting away.
Imagine what it is to be a wave: to retreat inside yourself and then release. To let go of love, worries, emotions, politics, responsibilities, and just be a wave. There is only one thing to do: be a wave, and then the task is completed.
It is just existing. Be a wave and just crash into the shore. Roll back out to sea and then crash again. When you add life though, there is a great ambivalence to being a wave. Wake up. Crash. Care for children and yourself and relationships. Crash, roll, crash. Get to work.
I don’t know how to be a purposeful wave. Succumbing to the numb is achingly easy. Maybe I have only one thing to do. Maybe I haven’t figured it out yet. Maybe I will figure it out once I have chosen the numbness of being merely a wave enough times that a little pain, love or responsibility, sounds better than the rhythmic pull of being a wave.
The king was enraged and sent his troops,
destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.
Then he said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready,
but those who were invited were not worthy to come.
Go out, therefore, into the main roads
and invite to the feast whomever you find.’
The servants went out into the streets
and gathered all they found, bad and good alike,
and the hall was filled with guests. — Matthew 22: 1-10
The truth is, we know we are being invited. We hear Christ’s call, and it sucks. Answering and following and RSVPing to the party is going to rip us out of what is comfortably numb in our lives.
It means preparing ourselves to be saintly.
It means reworking ourselves into His image.
It means that we must work to figure out what our “one thing to do” is and then sink back into the fold.
It means being a wave with purpose.