Welcome to the Dear Abby of rivers — an intermittent advice column in which real streams tell you, from experience, how to thrive WITH your own original immoderations.
Our first correspondent dives right in:
love love love this! i hope i’ve managed to get myself positioned as your very first commenter – perhaps that’s one of my little excesses (you and the rivers can ponder how this translates) J
i, of course, adore your use of the word ponder and can’t wait to read more of the river’s meanderings. xoxo
With that, she was off to something new and exciting! KC, you sure are first, and I’m so glad — you spurred me to get in touch with a spirited individual who (not so coincidentally) lives near you:Paradise is a gorgeous cascading river who shares your taste for jumping in first. When I approach her with an idea, she answers “oh yeah” and is improvising an extravagant, fruitful adventure before I finish my sentence. Paradise thrives on a sense of urgency. Her way of moving through the world is to take a quick leap then pause for a deeper, more reflective interlude. Leap, ponder, step, pool… indeed, hydrologists characterize Paradise as a step-pool channel.
Paradise’s reply to your letter was…swift:
Hey KC — do it in huge boulders!!
ps — bedrock is a rush too — those pools are so clear 🙂
Paradise is right. A “quick-start” stream’s welfare depends on its bed material. This kind of channel is stable only when made of, living in, running through, and working with big solid rock. The usual things that threaten a river — damaged vegetation, altered flows, slope changes, eroding banks — don’t faze a stream based in boulders or bedrock.
If we want to live like Paradise, we must ask ourselves, “What is it that I am made of, live in, run through, and work with? What is my foundation?”
Of course a human being’s foundation is never some external circumstance. Our base is what we think and believe about circumstances — because those thoughts determine our emotions, which govern our actions, which have consequences. Those consequences always support the original thought that flavored the entire domino effect (Brooke Castillo describes this so nicely in her book Self Coaching 101).
Is our strongest foundation one of hard, immobile beliefs? Will those keep us safe?
“If you don’t get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don’t want, you suffer; even when you get exactly what you want, you still suffer because you can’t hold on to it forever. Your mind is your predicament. It wants to be free of change. Free of pain, free of the obligations of life and death. But change is law and no amount of pretending will alter that reality.”
A free mind embraces the reality of change. Minds as free as KC, Paradise, and Socrates actually INITIATE change — in joy.
No matter OUR present circumstances or fears, any of us can cultivate a free mind. We can influence our thoughts — wiggling them, questioning (hence “Socratic Method!”). Sometimes a thought will move a bit. Sometimes a rigid identity will fall away.
“It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”
— Saint Francis of Assisi
My favorite technique for playing with this light, open sensation is available on Byron Katie’s website. Another resource is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) co-founder and pioneer in cognitive resarch Dr. Steven Hayes of the University of Nevada, Reno [Wolf Pack — holla! ].
And thanks, KC, for helping us glimpse the real nature of Paradise – the quick steps and pondering pools of a clear mind.