The River of Life

by Rachel Baker on August 7, 2011

A very long time ago, I found this interesting little book called Nothing Special: Living Zen by Charlotte J. Beck and Steve Smith. Over the years, I’ve picked it up and read an excerpt, here and there, but haven’t read the whole book since I first brought it home.

One of my favorite sections talks about how we are all whirlpools in the river of life. I always thought this was a wonderful concept for explaining how each of us have our own separate things going on in life, but by allowing others into our individual worlds we can create a more powerful experience in life – like two whirlpools coming together in a river. Sometimes, these experiences can be positive and sometimes they can be negative. The premise of the River is that every new experience is a new bend in the river, and at every new bend there’s calm waters, or raging rapids, or something in between; but there’s always little whirlpools.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about digging this book out and reading it again. I have found a new bend in the river of life and sometimes, there’s calm, clear waters, sometimes there’s muddy waters, and yes, there’s even been some raging rapids. Using the whirlpool analogy, I’ve collided with a whirlpool that was going in opposite directions, and I’ve merged with some going in the same direction. The last month has been an intense and strangely beautiful experience.

I believe life is exactly what we make it. I also believe that even when it seems like we don’t really have a choice in the direction life takes, ultimately there are about two seconds where we can choose to stay on the same path or explore a new path. For me, seven weeks ago, I could have said, “not my problem;” and stayed on the same River path, but instead, in a split second, I decided to row right on through the mangroves to find a new path on the river, staying close to shore in case I had to jump out of the boat without drowning, to collect my wits. I am happy to say, I haven’t jumped – a moment of full disclosure: I came close though – when the little whirlpools started to get a bit too chaotic, instead I took them a bit slower with my oar in the water trying to get the separate whirlpools all going in the same direction (my personal whirlpool included), trying to create a more positive experience for all involved.

After several weeks, I’m finally excited about this new river bend. Right now, I’m seeing new things, enjoying the exploration of new river banks and not even looking for a way back to the river I once knew. I’ve got some wonderful people in this strange little boat with me and it no longer feels like the boat ride in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; and one day, I’m positive it will feel like a lazy day trip down the river with a fantastic array of friends and family joining me on the pontoon boat with a picnic basket of culinary goodies to keep us satiated as we eat, drink and be merry on whatever new journey comes our way.

Unfortunately, this new bend in the River of Life has also afforded me little time to read. I miss reading, but over time, I know that I will find the time to incorporate the serene experience of curling up with a good book back into my world. Right now, though, my time is focused on music – listening, reading, playing and brushing up on things I knew once upon a time.

For the time being, I’ll do my best to write a Sunday article, with a bookish spin on it; but my dear readers, it may also have a musical spin, as well. I hope you will forgive me for this departure on the norm, and embrace the idea that maybe I’ll present something intriguing as I tie it all together. I hope to be back to reading and reviewing fiction at some point in the future, but I’m not sure how long this bend will last or where the next bend will take me. I’ve gotten through the raging rapids, and they are beginning to calm down a bit; and ultimately, my hope is as time goes on the waters will be crystal clear with little divergence in free flowing current.

Have a great week, I know I will!

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