Riding the flow

Life is like a flowing river. And we are in that river.

The river banks are insurmountable. So we cannot choose whether or not to be in the river. We are in it. Full stop.

But we can choose how we spend the time we have in the river.

Some cling to the wooden trunks that float on its surface, having no control as to where they are dragged to. They are in constant fear, helpless throughout. Wave after wave of water washes over their head and every time they’re terrified they will drown. So they hold on tighter to the floating trunk, ending up dragged along and with no direction.

Others abandon themselves to the current in utter helplessness. They are carried along by the current that bashes them around as they hit rocks, the banks, the floating debris, the branches at the riverside. They end up wounded and bleeding, broken, more than ever convinced that there is nothing they can do … and less able to do anything about it.

Some people find a tiny rocky surface jutting from the surface. They raise themselves onto it, sit there in that cramped space as they are incessantly drenched in the spray that forms as the water hits the small rock. Their muscles spasm and they suffer cramps as they do not move from that small surface. They feel miserable and spend their time lamenting how unfair things are.

Many others swim towards the river sides, grasp onto the branches and hold tightly onto them, terrified of letting go. The current pushes against and washes over them unabatedly. They hold on to the only thing they feel will save them from drowning: the branch they got hold of.

Others try to stop the flow: They hold onto a rock or a branch, turn facing the current, and try to push back the water, hoping that they can stop the water from pushing against them and hence create some stability in all that fluidity. A desperately futile attempt.

Or you ride the waves. That means grabbing a floating trunk, climbing onto it, and using a branch to move along the current. You cannot swim against it. You cannot really paddle along. You just keep going, surrendering to the current. The river moves you forward at its own speed and in its own. The moment you adjust to the current, the flow changes. You have to get used to new ways of riding the waves. And it changes again. And again. And again. The flow slows down and the river meanders slowly. Then you’re in the rapids, jostled and rocked around. At times you hit the rocks and bleed. You lose your balance a number of times, the water washes over you, you risk drowning, and are so tempted to stop and abandon everything or to just spend the rest of the time holding onto the riverbank. You approach a number of forks in the river. You don’t know where the paths will lead to. You try to choose the best option. But ultimately it’s the final push you give that decides which course you will follow, or rather, which course you will be moved along. As once again it is not you who moves the trunk along but the flowing current.

It’s a scary way of living. Actually no: it is fucking terrifying! It strips away your securities, prising open your fingers that are clenched, grasping any form of safety and stability. It pushes you into a state of not-knowing which triggers off deep anxieties. It dissolves any stability leading to a constant state of change. It strips you to your very core and exposes you in your vulnerability. But you travel far.

It’s a very risky business.

The alternative is death through slow decay.


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