When I was a kid, we used to sing a song in church called, “Deep and Wide.” You probably know it, too:
Deep and wide
Deep and wide
There’s a fountain flowing deep and wide…
We would sing it with hand motions, and I remember being a little bit amused by the lyrics. Did the fountain need to be both deep and wide? Intellectually, I knew that the point of the song was that God’s love was never-ending, but my rascally brain couldn’t help but wonder, “what if the fountain was just wide? Would we reject it?”
The same thought came to mind this week when a friend lamented the recent loss of a job. Evaluating his options, he began to network and schedule meetings with friends in his field of work, and crossed his fingers that one of them would be fruitful, and soon.
A few short-term freelance opportunities looked promising, but he was anxious. After all, he said, “I need a full-time job!”
“Negative,” I texted back. “You only need that to support the life you currently have. You could change your life. Think wide.” And the song came back.
We’ve all had the rug pulled out from under us, and immediately gone to work putting things back the way they were. Our lives are deep. We have layers of responsibility, tradition, obligation, relationships, comfort, and safety. So often we decide that the life we have created is the only way we want to live, so we insulate ourselves in layers of what we know. We live deep.
But deep can also be dark, and we can get so far down into our lives that we can no longer see what is next to us. Things that didn’t even exist when we started digging our deep lives. Opportunities that we don’t know about. Entire ways of living that never occurred to us.
What if life was wide instead? What if, instead of working to maintain the deepness of our lives, we climbed up and lived shallow?
That sounds bad, doesn’t? Living shallow? Who wants that? You’re right. Shallow doesn’t work. Let’s say, “living wide.” Wide is better.
Living wide means maybe those short-term freelance gigs are really rewarding and connect you with new people who hire you for other gigs, and you’re suddenly not tied to office hours and can pick up your kids from school.
Living wide might mean that on Monday you go for a walk with friends, and on Tuesday you go to the gym, and on Thursday you take a yoga class, and break out of your exercise rut of must-burn-calories-for-an-hour.
Living wide might mean that you get there when you get there and enjoy the journey, which is all we have promised to us anyway. Wide does not mean shallow — it does not mean living irresponsibly or without a safety net or a backup plan — it means being able to see the safety net.
What would it mean for you to live wide? Imagine climbing out of your hole and stretching your arms out as wide as you can, your fingers feeling like they are getting longer and longer. Have you been living a deep but narrow life? Is it dark down there?
Come up and look around.