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The River

A few days ago, I spent an afternoon by the river. Walking alongside of it, I marveled at her twists and turns, the variety of sounds and rhythms she produced, and her innate ability to balance rapids and depth with meandering trickles through branches, leaves and pebbles. While it rarely may seem this way, each of our lives are a little bit like a river; ebbing and flowing, sometimes moving in in rushed staccatos, sometimes snaking along in a meandered continuum. While all rivers may empty into the ocean, the journey getting there is what defines the river, not the water itself.

As I studied the river, I could not help but notice the contribution of the various dams to the river’s movement. When the journey of the water was held back, movement was provoked, resulting in a waterfall, rapids, or an increase or decrease in depth. This contributed to the river’s beauty and wonder. This increased her power.

In the river of our own lives, taking time out for reflect in a quiet pool is important to instigating further movement. Our culture, however, embraces busy-ness. For many this carries a sense of identity, self-worth, and flow; after all, with success and activity comes growth and propulsion. Yet in the shadows, may lurk the fear of stagnancy. The fear of losing what we have created prevents many from consciously pressing pause. Time to create a dam, to wade in the accumulated pool of our life; to gain perspective, to appreciate our surroundings. Like the river’s journey, our lives are more panoramic than we are capable of seeing as we travel inside its flow.

Despite our human desires to curate our life’s experiences, our lives cascade and meander like the river more than we know. Our egos become attached to the ideas of achievement and goals, yet we really never know what the value of our so called achievements may be in the eventual ocean we will all empty into at some point. The best we can do is to learn softness as we ride the rapids through the many rocky twists and turns, buoyancy from floating in the deep pools, and adaptability as she changes and morphs in all her wonder. Of course, it also helps to enjoy the ride.

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