Go With The Flow

A few years ago I was in Durango, Colorado with our kids on our annual family vacation. We lean toward adventure. And so we found ourselves on a raft trip down the Animas River. I listened to the safety talk with “yeah, yeah, yeah let’s get in the water already” going through my mind.

Early into the trip, we had to pass under a bridge to get out of town and into the fun part of the adventure. The rapids.  There were three round passageways under the bridge separated by concrete pillars. Our guide was directing us to paddle through a passageway.  The raft seemed to have a mind of its own as it headed straight toward one of the pillars.

I was anticipating a thud and then a bounce back off the pillar. It didn’t seem like a big deal.

Instead, when the raft hit the pillar it turned on its side and partially up the concrete wall.  Four of us tumbled out into the icy cold Animas. My husband and the guide remained in the raft while the four of us floated away in three directions.

It was a scary scene being dumped into the water unexpectedly. It was obvious we needed to go with the flow and not attempt to swim against the current to get back to the raft. It would have been futile and unnecessarily exhausting. We did what we knew to do which was tuck, take deep breaths and float until the raft was so close, with little effort,  we could swim to it and be pulled in.

We instinctively knew to go with the flow.

The story ended well in that while shaken and chilled, none of us were injured. The raft was damaged and we cut the trip short and got a refund.

I had an insight last week that took me back to this misadventure. I saw clearly how at times,

I paddle like crazy against life’s current

to keep things the same

or keep the current from dumping me into the icy unknown.

There is a definite flow to life. That this flow is in my control, is an illusion.  Life takes me on all kinds of wild twists and turns whether I am wearing a life vest in a tuck position floating downstream or wearing a bikini and paddling like mad upstream.

The upstream paddle makes life feel hard. The downstream float has an ease about it.

I grab on to a rock or low hanging branch, hang on for dear life, and then wonder why I feel stress and strain. I keep being hit with debris from the flow of the river and wonder why I am bruised.

I may only fully enjoy the ride when the river is flowing in my desired direction at optimal speed with little turbulence. And even then, I may turn my focus on what could be coming around the next curve, making the smooth ride feel scary.

Under the guise of taking charge,

I grab on to the same branches as the day before,

try to fix situations with old thinking or old actions,

second guess life and where the flow is taking me.

Here’s what I am getting a deeper glimpse of…..

There is an ever available option of swimming with the flow whether the ride is wild and crazy, smooth as silk, hot or cold.

I will continue to get dumped out of the metaphorical raft from time to time and plunged into the icy unknown.

I can shine a light or  gently attempt to steer but ultimately, where I end up is out of my control.

I am always wearing a life jacket.

The life jacket is formless

and much bigger than myself.

And even when I don’t feel it,

it has my back.

gayle nobel