Riding the rapids

 

I feel like a limp rag at the moment. It has been a hectic few weeks… just an accumulation of small things. Most of it has just been busy, some of it, behind the scenes, has not been so good and it is that side of things that has me feeling as if I had been squashed by a small but determined behemoth.

Not that it matters. There is  always Stuff to be done, regardless…  and a dog who seems to think it is fun to bound through the deep and muddy puddles in the fields every day, leaving me with floors to scrub, just for good measure. She also seems to think it is her bounden duty to keep the door between my shivering carcass and the frozen world wide open by parking her backside in it. However, it is a backside I love and her lunacy keeps me smiling even in the worst moments. She reads me so well I am sure she chooses to be more idiotic than usual when she knows I need to smile.

And we all have them, don’t we … those ‘worst moments’? Life seldom follows our hopes and dreams, nor does it always flow gently. There are rapids and currents, white water and hidden rocks and while some seem to have found a current of smooth silver that sparkles in the sunlight, it is impossible for the casual observer to see what lies beneath the beautiful reflections and shimmering ripples.

But,  it is not the course of the river that defines who we are… no matter how battered we may seem by the rocks and eddies of the stream. We define ourselves by our own actions, by our thoughts and choices and it is neither feasible nor possible to expect others to know or understand the myriad combinations that have led any one of us to a particular fork in the river. We cannot know over which pebbles a drop has flowed or where the mud has clouded the water. We see only the part of the stream we have shared and have to do our best to understand each other with that limited knowledge.

Yet there is another way. If we cannot know the whole story of another, we can know our own. We cannot always know what has guided the path of others, but we can, with inner honesty, know ourselves. It is not an easy thing to look within and see ourselves as we truly are, though ‘Know Thyself’ is possibly the most oft-quoted phrase in the world of spiritual seeking. More often than not we look only at the reflection of self that we see in the stream… a reflection we have created and projected onto the moving waters of our personal world. It may not be pretty, it may not be what we would like it to be. Ripples will distort it, clouds and foam will shadow it… but it is ours and familiar… comfortable.

Yet the reflection is not the stream. Nor is it the reality it mirrors.

 

That reflection is our focus, and others looking on may find their gaze drawn there also, into the flowing waters of the stream of life… yet what is reflected there is real. It stands above the water, separate. It stands in quiet stillness upon the bank and is not pulled by currents or battered by rapids, seeing a wider view of the landscape… looking back to whence the stream has come and forward to where it flows. It may see the waterfall ahead and understand the currents, or the tumbling wash over jagged rocks that explain the roiling pools. It sees too those calm places where the reflection is perfect and gazes back with clear and knowing eyes.

If we can live in the awareness of that true self and not in the rippled reflection, knowing ourselves for who and what we truly are there is a deeper peace and a greater understanding of the tides which move us, each one of us. In learning to see ourselves, our actions and choices in a clear and ever present light we glimpse that wider landscape and see that no matter what the stream is doing or how it churns the reflection, we remain. We can drink from the waters of life and find them clean and pure and as we stoop to drink our image comes closer to meet us… and as we drink they kiss and become One.

30 thoughts on “Riding the rapids

  1. It’s a bumpy road. There are occasionally smoothe patches, but mostly — rocks and ruts. Whenever things seem to be running smoothly, I figure I’m about to run into quicksand or the world’s deepest mud. But it’s okay. I’m used to it by now. I don’t think life is supposed to be easy or smooth and whatever we think is our worst day, is not. There’s another worse one just around the corner. AND by the way, I never think “this is my worst moment or day or hour” because that’s the biggest jinx of all jinxes.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So sorry things have been rough lately. I hope they will look better soon.

    But I did love this thought provoking piece. Lately I’ve been wondering about the relationship between the “me” I know and the one reflected back from those around me. They often seem to think of me as smarter, nicer, and funnier (if , alas, not thinner) than I see myself. From an HR career that frequently involved listening to radically different versions of issues and events, I know the truth tends to be somewhere in the middle. My job then was to make that middle ground everyone’s new reality. Maybe that’s still my job?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I really love your attitude to life and what is chucked at you, Sue. Something I try to do to the best of my ability but don’t always manage to pull off. If life threw lemons, I would make lemonade, but not a lot you can do with rotten cabbages!

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  4. A lovely, thoughtful post, Sue. One advantage of getting older is that we can understand that when we are going through rough waters, eventually we’ll come out into that beautiful, clear pool of water.
    And also, to try to look, not at that reflection, but at the real person, whether ourselves or others, and love the reality in others, not the reflection they like to show.

    Like

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