We can all relate. Right? Life most certainly can be a raging, bone crushing, life threatening, Class V stream.
In my recent amassing of thoughts and words for this blog post, and in line with my true persona— collector of metaphor, I came across this T-shirt from a local rafting company my husband used to guide for. The theme of water rises again in my subconscious to help me gauge recent successes on a threshold of a an unstoppable steady stream taking me down river. This stuff of life and finding the perfect flow is never easy. When we settle in on the comfort of a rocking wave train, it never seems to hold form. No matter what amount of lilly-dipping our paddle provides along the way, the world keeps moving, time keeps floating by, and our hearts and minds drift on.
But what happens when we hit a snag? Most of us need to take our own time to sit in the strainer. Hopefully, we eventually move out. The key is that we don’t let it drown us. We don’t let it stop our true nature of who we are.
How do we react just moments before we hit a rock and we have the choice to go high side or bail? By the way, the rocks don’t care. They are ever-present and a part of the journey. The river, like life is alive with decision.
We are all creatures of instinct in the moments that test us. We each have our tells, our fallbacks and go-to reptilian mindsets when the life vest isn’t a snug enough fit. We’ve all experienced the markers of fate that lead us to our next obstacle. We’re guaranteed of an infinite number of tests to go river left or river right. It still surprises us to find we’re suddenly facing a Class V rapid, and even though we know that the act of simply throwing a skipping rock out to it will get us nowhere, we’re all human. We know what it’s like to feel that helpless. These strainers are everywhere and they are put in place to stall our forward momentum.
I share this conundrum of the river of life because I’ve recently taken the plunge that put me face to face with my own fear-monger mindset. I had to reach for my authentic self and trust it to hold me. I know I’m not done. I’m never going to throw in the towel if I want to be true to myself. I’m still traveling down that rocky terrain, but I’ve been given a little reprieve. I’m going to enjoy the float through the canyon, knowing the river bends and it could turn at any moment. Either way, I’ve decided I’m still in the boat. I’m going to let this river flow. I won’t capsize. I’ll stay afloat, even when fear snakes in.
What I’ve come to understand in my mid-life point is that sometimes life is just another waterfall. We have some control, but there are times when we go hands-freefalling over the edge in our barrels. What we sometimes forget is that we were all born with a paddle. We hold the paddle. That doesn’t mean circumstance won’t toss in mudslide every now and then or a boulder to contend with. The dynamics will change, but what I’ve come to accept is that there is a pattern in all this. It’s hard, then it’s not. Things come together and fall apart again. There are steady flows, raging life-threatening rapids, but then, we get to opportunities to eddy out and take a breath, maybe even take in the view for a while.
To ruminate on what this means in our lives and the lives of those we come in contact with, as we read the lines of our path, is to give us clarity and understanding to the proverbial river. When we open ourselves up for discovery, making room in the vessel for all of the adventures and risks to come or overcome, we allow in real life experiences that make this our own Wanderlust Adventure.
Knowing we all float with love, grief, respite, desolation, delight and gratitude we are more ready to accept how they each come from the same source. They tip our boats and flow in with or without grace. My advice is to lift your head to it. Look around, on down river where the water bends and blends into the landscape of our lives.
This is what it is to be human.
We all have a voice and a choice on this journey. Even when the only choice is to pull in and put our feet back on the ground. There is no stopping the river. The power to chase the ebb and flow is a lifelong struggle, and yet, it is the only measure of clear transformation that can get us from here to there. It is a taste of trust as we dive into our resilience and let go of the fear holding us back. We can all take hold of the oars. We can all move forward because that’s the only way to go. Either way, the water will take us toward tomorrow. Why not enjoy the ride?