October 2015 – Life as a River

For me one of the hardest things for me is deciding if I am going upstream or downstream in the river of life.  Our society often promotes an upstream view of success.  We might think that the good things in life always require a lot of effort.  This is what I thought for many years.  One of the best teachings from my 200 hour yoga training came from an unexpected source, Monty Python’s Holy Grail Black Knight character.  King Arthur points out he has cut off both of the Knight’s arms.  The Black Knight replies it is just a flesh wound.  Our lesson that day was to honor our bodies needs in yoga and know when to quit.  The feeling of always going against the current might be leading you to let go of some things.

It often makes no sense to look back at the river that was behind you.  Once, as a novice,  I was canoeing in a big group down the Namekagan River in Wisconsin.  We navigated some fairly difficult rapids.  I turned back to congratulate my canoe partners.  I did not see the big rock ahead and as we hit it I was somersaulted out of the canoe.  The current was strong and that was a scary lesson for me.  We stopped for our lunch break on a beautiful shore line.  I then also had to explain to the other paddlers why I was the only one in our canoe who was soaking wet.

Another part of the river analogy of life is not knowing what is around the bend.  We tend to want to know our future so we can plan and control it.  You most likely have heard the saying go with the flow.  When I can let go of expectations I am much happier.  One of my favorite quotes is ” I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding”  John O’Donohue