Friday, July 8, 2011

Going with the flow

Don't get me wrong.  I like water.  It's pretty to look at.  It's good to drink.  It's useful to wash with.  But there's something about being IN or ON it that gives me the heebie-jeebies.  I've had more than one near-drowning incident in my life - and one is more than enough times to be that near death.  

It's unpredictable.  It goes where it goes, and that is a scary prospect.  If I must be in it (when not washing) I want it to be in a pool and my feet must be able to touch bottom.  If I must be on it, then I prefer it to be in some sort of boat, preferably one with paddles (like a canoe) or a motor.

A few years ago my husband, two children and I went to a waterpark in a neighbouring province.  They had this man-made slow river tube ride and my kids wanted us to go "down the river" as a family, each in his or her own tube: everything was controlled of course, and while my mind told me that it was safe, my insides quivered at the idea of letting something else take me who knows where.  

It was all my family could do to get me to park my rump in one of those tubes and lie back ... I was on edge and couldn't relax and enjoy the ride.  I couldn't seem to trust that I wasn't going to fall in and be overrun by all the other tubes on the "river."  I could hear the shrieks of enjoyment coming from my kids; one of them splashed water in my direction.  I shuddered. 

But something happened about two-thirds of the way around.  We'd been around a couple of corners and the rubber tube beneath me twisted around the curves, spun out of control and bumped up against the edges.  But I was still in one piece.  And that's when I decided that this wasn't going to be horrible.  I became aware of the sensation of the coolness of the water on my feet as they dangled in the stream, and the warmth of the sun on my face and arms.  It was still quite disconcerting to be buffeted around with no more control than just the feeble paddling I could do with my cupped hands... but I experienced something akin to (what's the word?) fun!  This was something I had not expected.

I began to enter into the spirit of the outing and by the time we got to the end of the ride, I was truly enjoying myself.

I was reminded of that ride today when I read these words:

"Relinquish anxiety.  Let it slip away, as you dive into the river of the present moment, the river of your life, your place in the universe.   Stop trying to force the direction.  Try not to swim against the current, unless it is necessary for your survival. If you've been clinging to a branch at the riverside, let go.   Let yourself move forward. Let yourself be moved forward." (from The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie, ©1990 Hazelden Foundation)

There are times when it is necessary to go upstream - when setting boundaries, when saying that the way things have been is not the way things shall be from now on.  But the principle of letting life happen, not forcing it, allowing feelings to be what they are and not denying them, accepting circumstances and people for what and who they are - this is a powerful thing.  

And along the way we learn to go with the flow - and enjoy the ride.

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