My morning ritual is enrichment. Not scholarly latin or mathematics but personal enrichment. Many times it feels like enlightenment, because more often than not, I have an “ah ha” moment where a specific analogy or quote or comment flips the proverbial light switch. Almost like a cartoon character, the light bulb goes on and a certain truth is illuminated.
Truth is one of those words. It carries a lot of baggage. It’s both organic and spiritual at the same time and even though I know that, it’s really the best word for this post – truth.
The analogy I heard this morning about how to live a life of joy and love was a white water river story. The speaker explained that on a recent rafting trip, part of the instructions were to stay away from the rocks. Going down the river would be fast at times, and slower at others but in all cases much easier if you go with the flow. The trip will be amazing and fun if you follow the push and pull of your path. And, it’s important to know that not all rafts will follow the same exact path.
If you get stock on a rock, you will have all the pressure of the river pummeling you. Rocks look like a safe place to stop, but the river will pound you relentlessly. The instructor further explained, If you need to stop, head for the edge, there are several sandy shoals in slower moving water. And, if you are inclined to go back up river, to do something over or find something you lost, you’re better off pulling the raft out of the water; carrying it back up stream and putting yourself back in the river, rather than trying to paddle back up the swiftly moving river.
I think everyone has some rocks that they cling to in their lives. Sometimes it’s as simple as the haircut we choose and sometimes it’s as big as the possibilities we allow ourselves to dream about, the fact is we see the rock. It looks steady and strong like a great place to stop. We recognize it for what it is, a way to stop forward movement and we cling to it. After all, who knows, this river may be heading for a waterfall!
It’s scary right? I mean, you see several rafts gliding by, everyone laughing and smiling and easily steering with the flow. Perhaps they gently steer over to the side, and rest, then easily push off and head into the flow again. But there are others. You see some rafts seem to just bounce from rock to rock and as you look around, you see others holding onto other rocks for dear life, like you, getting pounded by the river.
I cling to rocks.
This analogy has really brought me to a place of realizing how I have only been allowing myself to leap frog down the river. Literally, rather than just put the raft in the water, jump in and start moving … here I am, raft on my back, all of my survival gear piled high on top and I’m literally jumping from rock to rock headed downstream. I guess some would say, “well at least you are moving in the right direction” and I appreciate that. I am thankful for that.
However, in my life with recognition comes action. Now that I understand why my forward movement has been so slow, now that I understand that I’m in charge of whether I overcome my “fear” of water, it’s time for me to do something about it. “But how?” you ask.
I think the trick is finding relief from whatever has urged me to take my raft out of the water.
Continuing with this hysterical (in all senses of the word) analogy, you can see how smart I am. I stopped at the rock, I enjoyed the safety of the rock so much, that I hauled myself and all my stuff out of the water.
From that vantage point, I see that I am safe, but I can also see downriver and I know that’s where I want to go. So, instead of moving swiftly with the river, I am literally teetering on a pointy rock, risking falling in the river and plunging into the icy cold water every time I leap from one rock to another. Not only is it stressful, but it’s incredibly slow.
So, how to find relief. How to put myself back in the river and allow myself to flow.
If you’re clinging to the rock of “I hate my job” or “I can’t find a job”. You can’t see the new job that is downstream, all you can see is the water pounding you as you cling to that rock. If you’re like me (clever thing that I am) You will climb on that rock, convincing yourself that you need to see the lay of the land, than you’ll jump back in the water. The longer you stand on the rock, the harder it is to get yourself to jump back in. It’s comfortable there. The water isn’t pounding you, the sun is nice… but sometimes it rains, and sometimes you see friends skillfully steering past you… and you wish you were with them…
Look for relief. Look for the things that allow you back into the flow. Perhaps your dog or cat, maybe your kids or garden. Maybe there is a forest behind your home and every Saturday you take a long walk. Maybe you have a great car, and you love road trips. Find you moments of flow.
Find those moments when you truly feel like you are in tune with the flow and your personal direction. When you believe you are skillfully steering with the river and waving to friends in the slower moving eddies, or maybe even clinging to rocks…
My point is, if you are holding onto how difficult something is, how hard it is and experience how negative that makes you feel and choose something else. Choose to think about your moments of joy and milk them.
Soon, as you practice, you will find yourself looking for more opportunities to notice joy. You will look for more occurrences of happiness in your life. And those people, (you know the ones) the ones that want to commiserate their misery about the crappy job market or the terrible job, those people won’t want to talk to you. But you know who will want to talk to you? People that are finding joy.
More and more often, you will be in the raft that is going with the flow.
Have an amazing day.