Life Is a River

french broad river

I’ve been in a really weird place lately. It seems the harder I work and the more I fight, the more I struggle. I woke up on Friday morning in a dark place. I knew it would be another tough day. I was angry, too. I was angry that life is so difficult. So I decided to stop. I sat in the dark most of the day and watched youtube videos and read facebook. Inside I was kicking and screaming.

Yesterday I also sat inside and watched youtube videos and read facebook. It felt good to give up. It felt good not to hustle. I spend my life hustling. There’s so much to do when you own a business. The more I work, the more money I make. The work is truly endless. But I haven’t really been reaping any rewards from my work, so I gave up. I watched a beautiful movie with Wayne Dyer called Ambition to Meaning: The Shift. The movie was about letting go of your ego and living your purpose.  And I watched Alan Watts videos about being part of the planet, not separate, and about releasing control. These are all very relevant themes in my life lately, since the world has been taking me for a ride. The information came exactly when I was ready for it.

I’ve been so intrigued with nature and our place in it lately. I’ve been reading about the souls of plants and places and about communicating with animals. This video about an animal communicator really struck me in a deep way. The communicator is so soft and receptive. I was intrigued by her body language. How could I learn to be that soft? The message from all these youtube videos: release the ego and unite with nature.

I woke up this morning still having no agenda but to just be. It’s all I can do right now. I read the writing of a friend who lives her passion by living in nature spending most of her life on hiking trails. Nature is her answer, so I decided to go to my place in nature. My intention was to just listen. I arrived at the beach area, stripped down to my bathing suit, let Rufus off his leash and started wading in the water. Soon a family arrived. There was a little girl, so I put Rufus on his leash. He’s a wildling and has been known to excitedly knock little toddlers right over onto the ground like dominoes.

I noticed how the mother hovered over the little girl, never giving her more than a few feet of space. The whole family was dressed in all their clothes. They looked very clean and proper. In stark contrast, a woman about my age wearing a dress arrived on the scene, marched directly  down to the water and submerged herself, dress and all. She let the water carry her as she floated a little way. She expressed how much she needed to be submerged in water. She had a gentle, welcoming energy, and the little girl came right up to her as she was floating. I let Rufus off his leash, unsure how the fully clothed uptight family would react. Rufus ran up to the little girl, and she handled herself quite well.

I overheard the little girl tell her mother “That’s where my boundary is.” She continued to repeat all the things her mother told her. Rufus and I started following the flow of the river and walking. The little girl and her mother were beside us. The girl laughed at Rufus swimming. I asked her if she swam, and she told me that she’s too scared. I told her that Rufus is scared to swim too, but he swims anyway. She said to me, as though she had recorded her mom’s voice and was told to press play any time it was applicable, “You may like to swim, and that’s good, but I’m scared.”

“That’s where my boundary is.” I kept turning it over and over in my mind. I was so sad for the girl. She’s living in a safe cage that her mother created for her. I wanted to grab her and tell her that life is breaking boundaries, and that she’ll never live if she doesn’t do the things she’s scared of. “That’s where my boundary is.” I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Where were my boundaries? What boundaries had my parents taught to me that I’m still holding onto? Mmmm hmmm. I had already got just what I came here for.

The sun was shining, and Rufus and I continued walking, following the flow of the river. I felt myself opening up. “That’s where my boundary is.” switched to the background, and I softened. I didn’t come here to think. I came here to listen. I decided I was really enjoying walking with the river, so we turned around to get my backpack back at the beach. I noticed how much more difficult it was to walk against the flow of the river, and I thought that quite profound. As we approached, I watched this family who had come to be my teachers. The mother was still hovering over the little girl, instructing her every move. The young grandmother was standing all the way up at the top of the beach in the shade dressed in her clean clothes with her arms folded in front of her. She walked closer to the water, and the little girl said, “Grandma, could you just stick your toes in? It’s cold at first, but then it gets warm.” She didn’t. The fully clothed man who was wading up to his calves walked up to the beach, and the grandmother grabbed his hand and gave him his sandals in such a way so that his wet feet wouldn’t have to touch the dry sand.

Usually I’m watchful of Rufus and am sure that I’m not rude by letting him jump all over people. He gets very excited. But I let Rufus do his thing. I saw him run up to the grandmother. He got mud on her clean white pants. I thought that was the best possible thing he could have done. He started digging excitedly in the sand, and the uptight grandmother asked me, “Does he do that in your yard?” Rufus had upset her very nice and neat and pre-planned existence, and I thought it was just beautiful. I hung out for a little while longer to see if there was anything else for this family to teach me. Then Rufus and I turned the other way and again followed the flow of the river.

It was a beautiful day, and I kept softening more and more and taking it all in. I opened and received and listened. Nature is very soft and subtle. I kept following the flow of the river, feeling the ease of walking with its flow. Life has its flow. If you walk against the flow of life, your journey will be much more difficult than it needs to be. This feeling of following the flow sunk deep, deep into me. In some places the sun would shine bright, and I could clearly see the shallow spots where the ground was solid and it was easiest to step next. In some places the ground was rather slimy and soft. Some places were a little deep and murky and I didn’t quite know what I was stepping on and quite how deep it was. Are you seeing the metaphor here?

There were ducks and woodpeckers and different sounds in the woods. I was slowed down to the pace of my surroundings, and the spirit of the place was sinking into me. This is a very different version of me. I was experiencing the softness I so admired in the animal communicator on the youtube video. I took the time to bond with Rufus and to trust his own nature. I walked so slowly, letting it all seep in deep, stopping sometimes to watch Rufus have a blast.

We came upon a bridge with traffic, so we turned around. The sun was illuminating everything. My foot opened up to the earth, and I felt each step of my foot as it hit the solid ground. There were all these little shiny silver pieces of the sand glowing in the sun. They would stir up as I walked. I really, really felt the sensation of the water flowing around my feet. I really felt my breath. Time slowed down for a second to show me that I was really on to something. Enjoy the journey. Really, really feel the journey. Be totally present.

I felt called to sit in a certain place in the river. The river is a mother. She’s home to all this life! All the leaves and all the debris just float right along with her. As I was sitting I felt the power of her. Though my feet were planted on the ground I had the sensation that I was floating. I picked my feet up and let them be taken by the river. She’s powerful but soft. The sand was collecting on my feet because the flow of the water was finding its way around me. One day my body will be completely taken by the earth.

I’d had a magical experience. Time didn’t matter today. I would spend as long as I wanted in this place. Why is there always this sense of unease and that there is something to do, but we’re never actually doing it? We never get to it. I returned to the beach and laid in the sun. It felt so good to give in and be taken by nature. I said in my mind “I release all my desires, my beliefs, my opinions to you.” I give up. I’m going to follow the river of life. Who knows where I’m going.

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