A wake-up call. Again.

by Simon Goland, October 12, 2011

Today’s Reflection is about yet another wake-up call.

The River of Life is a powerful metaphor to one’s life journey. I use it with new incoming students of Bainbridge Graduate Institute when we gather for 5 days of an orientation to the program and introduction to Leadership and Personal Development (a course I have been teaching there for a long while now).

Students get into small groups and spend time sharing their lives, sharing stories about their moments of twists and turns of their rivers of life. I ask them to pay particular attention to the moments when they encountered rapids, turbulent white water, and other obstacles our lives so graciously present us with, when we need to learn a new lesson, or perhaps review an old one.

When floating down the river, there are times we all get complacent, put the paddle in our lap, and allow the river to take its course and carry us somewhere, while we take a time-out, observe the scenery, or perhaps take a nap. Oftentimes, this is when a wake-up call shakes us out of complacency, reminding us to be vigilant, present, and clear that the river is not to be underestimated.

“Every true love and friendship is a story of unexpected transformation. If we are the same person before and after we loved, that means we haven’t loved enough.” – Elif Shafak

I received one of these recently, in a form of a BIG rapid. The interesting thing about this particular wake-up call is the fact that I knew I was heading towards this particular rapid. It is called a relationship, of the “romantic intimate kind.” Someone (Andre Gide perhaps) once said that life has two ways of dealing with our wishes; one is to deny these, and the other is to grant them to us. In our more modern lingo, the “be careful what you ask for…” phrase comes to mind. After all, wanting a rich, deep, authentic, intimate, and vulnerable relationship is one thing. Being in one and making it so is quite different.

It is nearly impossible to head towards such a turbulent rapid in the river and remain dry. Such turbulence allows me to gain new appreciation to the forces that surround it and carry me deep towards the center of it, which – from the little I really know about white water rafting – is the only way to go through. It is about getting wet, saying yes, tuning in to forces much greater than my own individual self, and letting go, yet again, from what I think I know about my River of Life. Only then will I learn something new, beautiful, and transformational in its core.

May Love continue to shatter you into a thousand pieces.
May you find within the ruins,
treasures that can never be described by mere words
but only through our souls recognition of a familiar stranger
we have forgotten, yet always known.
May your identity be swept away
by the torrential waters of Love and
tear down anything left standing.
And while totally surrendered,
in a state of complete defeat,
may you find the Love that you are
and have always been.
— Alison Van Buuren

I think I see you, rapids. Here I come.