Imagine a vast underwater world that stretches as far as the eye can see, a world filled with unthinkable beauty and diversity—thousands of exotic creatures large and small, psychedelically colorful fish and coral, magnificent formations of rock and sand, a phantasmagoric display of life everywhere you turn…
Now imagine that your gaze suddenly falls upon one little part of this underwater scene that lays before you, a tiny yellow fish swimming around in this vast oceanic world. You find yourself captivated by the fish, your attention drawn into the orbit of this colorful little creature, like a moth to a flame. You begin following the little yellow fish around. And as you do so, the rest of this scene you’ve been beholding begins to fade from view.
Our everyday experience is very much like this underwater world—a seemingly infinite array of sights, sounds, textures, colors, images, and feelings filling every instant. So rich, so colorful, so deep. Presented with the vast, underwater world that constitutes our moment-to-moment experience, we invariably try to make sense of it all. We interpret it, map it, model it, conceive of it, describe it. And while all of this is completely normal and natural, there’s one fly in the ointment and that is the belief (largely unconscious) that our interpretations of the vast, mysterious, unfathomable world of experience are somehow equivalent to it.
It’s completely understandable that we would latch onto and believe in our interpretations and descriptions of things for they bring us some measure of comfort and security, a feeling of greater certainty, a sense that we know the score so to speak and have a handle on what’s going on here, how it works, and what it all means. But just as we found ourselves doing with the little yellow fish, we become captivated and ultimately blinded by the interpretations, taken in by the narratives and stories that claim to know what reality is and why it is, transfixed by the bright light of our descriptions of things, orienting so powerfully to them that we temporarily lose sight of the rest of the scene, forgetting that the interpretations are but one infinitesimally small part of a sea of experience that is simply too vast, complex and richly detailed to ever be captured by any definition or classification.
Bear in mind that the little yellow fish of our interpretations needn’t go away; after all they are part and parcel of the vast and beautiful underwater world that constitutes our moment-to-moment experience. But what we can begin to do is to feel what is actually present here, the exceedingly subtle, rich, and fathomless watery depths of experience that lay beyond the reach of anything we could ever define or conceive.