Around the Bend

A River of a Metaphor

Water ebbs and flows, constantly changing and moving. Humans are only 70% water. I guess we’re only changing that much of the time. Then again, staying still and growing stagnates water as much as a person. And water does freeze. It might stay chemically as H20 but easily changes states from solid to liquid to gas. Although this level of state fluidity is not so simple for humans, metaphorically it is. The hardest part is being open to a change of state. Most of us suck at being too open or too closed. We come up with all sorts of excuses or guards to not change. We maintain pretenses and pressure ourselves to be what we should versus who we are and will become. We rush growth or we don’t grow at all.

To be safe, we lose our chance of ever knowing
what’s around the river bend,
waiting just around the river bend.

Pocahontas got it right. At least as far as the Disney film is concerned. We never know what twists and turns life will throw at us. They require patience, grace, discipline, and willpower. Heading around life’s bends isn’t something you do alone, either. You’re not a lone wolf unless you choose to be one. You only stay where you are when you fight the current.

Going with the flow is in your best interest. It means following God’s plan for your life. Sometimes, you’re merely along for the ride. Maybe you’ll get tossed about in some Category 5 rapids. Enjoy the whitewater rafting adventure! Don’t fret over life jostling you about. If you want a permanently smooth ride, I think you’re looking for the River Styx. When it is “smooth sailing,” lay back and enjoy coasting along. When it’s not, that’s your opportunity to fight for the path you’re supposed to be on. Usually, those grand rapids come from pressure to meet false expectations, throwing you off course.

With the Flow

I’ve a tendency to fight the river. Most who know me personally would agree that my “element” is not water. If I were water, I’d most likely be an ocean or a major river like the Nile, maybe a small sea. Either way, I’m not good at going with the flow. Instead, I’m more like a tidal wave or the waters held back by the Panama Canal. I’m not really something that flows calmly. I don’t slowly wear away at mountain ranges until they become Grand Canyons. Nor do I move as a giant mass and melt into great lakes.

I’m not gentle rainfall. I’m more like sleet or hail. I fall, crystalline and brittle. I might sting your face or bring you mild delight. Or I might dent your car. All of this depends on how I approach the state of change. See, as we’re not entirely water, change takes time. How we approach a time of transition determines just how ready we are for a change. For example, if I come in huffing and puffing in a lupine sense, I’m likely to blow my “house” down. Essentially, throwing a fit about not getting my way with the flow of God’s plan would be like throwing my paddle into the river.

I could wait hopelessly, gripping my oar and lamenting my lack of control in the situation. That’s not really me, though. As someone who elementally identifies with fire, I won’t sit still for long. Of course, I don’t want to burn up my metaphorical boat, so I’d probably contain the flames of whatever I’m feeling. That being said, if I’m really open to no longer resisting the current flow of God’s plan then I’m going to have to turn down the heat. Maybe I could be like Viking funeral, where they set arrows alight upon a funerary pyre. I might have to reconceptualize this metaphor.

Up a Creek

How we wait while in our life raft (ha!) can change us as much as the change we await. That sounds like a bit of a tongue twister or paradox but it’s pretty true. You can throw your oar overboard, lament about your inability to change life’s current, you can relax and enjoy the ride, or you might have to fight for your seat in said life raft when unpleasant monsters try to oust you. I know I belong on this river and not the one to the afterlife. I hope you all know that, too.

It’s difficult to go with the current when things don’t go your way. I’m not telling you to not throw a pity party, but how long will you sit there feeling sorry for yourself? Sometimes we misinterpret the water. We take risks that might put us off course or unbeknownst to us, bring us closer to our next resting place. I recently invited a friend to coffee to see what would happen. I was testing a few things, including said friend’s interest in me. I called and left a voicemail inviting him and didn’t get a response. At all. Have I thrown my oar out, yet? Nope. I’m sharing with you my somewhat forced resilience to ignore my wounded pride. Rejection happens all of the time. The only way to know if something’s worth it is if you take a risk.

This wasn’t a major risk, nor did I receive a major response. I don’t plan on making a fuss about it either. Our friendship will go on as it was before and the ignorance of my invitation will be dismissed. I won’t churlishly call him out on his rudeness or immaturity, tempting as that may be. Instead, I’m going with the flow. Time to pick up my oar and paddle to the next shore.

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