Be A River, Not a Dam


I’m not usually one to “create stories.” I believe that every story can be told many different ways. We make a choice with every word we speak, every thought we think, to create a “good” story or a “bad” story out of our lives, our current circumstances, our “dramas”.

These stories often create suffering for us, because our perceptions are incorrect. We have ideas about what is good and bad, based on what society tells us, what our parents told us as children, and what we tell ourselves every day.

We think success looks a certain way, and so we fight to create a certain picture of it in our lives, which creates a fight…a struggle…for everything, and a continual feeling of suffering.

You Are A River…

Look at life as though you are a flowing river, simply moving along its course, over rocks, under bridges, around trees. Does the river curse the rocks it meets? No, because they guide it to the ocean or the lake.

The river doesn’t need to be anything other then what it is. It doesn’t need to go anywhere but where it is already going. The river will eventually reach the ocean, but it does not struggle and fight to get there…it goes with the flow.

I find that when I go with the flow of life – instead of trying to be a river flowing up a mountain, pushing towards some perception I have about who I should be –  I experience less suffering. When I reach obstacles, I simply move around them (or at least I try – I’m still re-training myself out of the “life is a struggle” perception I have!).

I used to damn the river and halt the entire abundant, natural flow of life around me to stop and curse that one damn rock that had gotten in my way.

The job loss. The financial challenges. The pay cut. Cancer. The latest death in the family. And even little things like the flu. The backache. The freaking oblivious driver on the road in front of me.

All this did was create constant dissatisfaction. And, it continually disrupted the flow of abundance in my life. How can a river flow to the ocean with one-hundred and forty-six damns along the way?

Don’t Make GOALS?

Thich Nhat Hanh, the great Buddhist teacher, says we should not have GOALS.

What?! Really, we shouldn’t have goals?! But, then how would we ever get anywhere? How would we plan for the future? How would we know we could control the outcome of our lives?!!! 

Trying to control everything in your life is what creates your suffering. You set up your bank accounts, your spreadsheets, your 401k’s, your investments, your vision of what success looks like to you. It’s your STORY of what success looks like.

Then, you find yourself flailing along on the highs and lows each of these come with, and that creates more suffering for you. Every time you feel that things are not going according to your plan, you stop to curse the rocks in the middle of the river.

Releasing control ends suffering. Control is trying to hold onto everything, to influence and manipulate the course of the river. Control is trying to swim upstream. The beauty and “success” of life is already here, happening right now. The beauty of life IS now. It is not something you need to struggle to reach somewhere “out there.”

This isn’t to say we shouldn’t strive for certain things in our lives. But, those “strivings” should also be a flow – a natural expression of who you are, rather then a struggle to try to be something you are not yet.

So, yes, set up your intentions for your life. Spend time reflecting on them every day. Think of them with hope. Speak them naturally and easily to the Universe and to the people you meet.

But, then, Go with the flow.

Rocks are part of the stream.

In fact, they are a necessary part of the stream. Do not curse them. They are simply re-directing you. Follow the direction they are creating. Seek the gifts in every challenge you come upon. Don’t be a victim of the story your misconceptions would have you create, based on ideas that only cause you pain.

Create your own story! 🙂 Let go of your ideas of who you NEED to be, and simply be…who you are, now.

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