Our property has what seems like a healthy stream (as far as I can tell). Assuming it is okay, how can we keep it healthy?
— A Neighbor
PS — Will these strategies work for me too??
Sustaining an already-stable river is simple: let it be itself. All you have to do is NOT force it to be otherwise:
True mastery can be gained
by letting things go their own way.
It can’t be gained by interfering.
— Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching #48, translated by Stephen Mitchell
People are part of The Way too
And you, my dear neighbor, can trust YOUR inner river.
Your deep, essential self longs to play out your own glorious “way.” In The Soul’s Code, archetypal psychologist James Hillman compares individual soul energy to an acorn that carries the pattern for an oak tree. He believes our unique possibilities are inside of us, ready to manifest in our calling.
We can discover our true calling by noticing anything and everything that, well… CALLS to us. What can’t YOU stay away from, neighbor?
Sometimes it’s just that easy. Alas…
… if you are like me, sometimes it feels impossible to receive any incoming “call.” Usually this is a sign that the outwardly-directed part of you – what Jungians call the persona — deems your calling unworthy. Although absolutely VITAL for negotiating the outer world in service of your essential self, the persona is not good at determining your path. Left unguided, the persona (terribly competently, mind you!) follows expediency and the expectations of others. Your essential self falls out of balance.
A river body never lies
Like a person… a river can become unbalanced by outside influence. You can tell it’s not healthy because the river’s geomorphic character – literally its “earthen body” — suffers. Stream banks may fall into the channel or mid-channel bars may split the stream’s flow.
On the other end of the scale, in its naturally balanced state, the river’s whole body — its banks, bed, and adjacent floodplain – is stable and full of life.
The branch of hydrology that I love acquired its very name, Fluvial Geomorphology, because we wade right into the river and slosh all over the place to learn what we need to know: we study the earthen bodies (geo +morph) created by flowing water (fluvial). THE principle underpinning my stream work is this:
The river body itself shows us everything we need in order to understand the river’s health, its trend, AND its highest potential.
How cool is that.
Like a river… your body is an “Essential-Self Detector”
I’m finding that the Fluvial Geomorphology paradigm applies to my life as well as it does to the rivers. It will work for you too, neighbor. To hear your essential self’s call, simply study your own earthen body — from the inside.
Next time we’ll learn EXACTLY HOW you can wade back in to yourself. Happy preview:
Feel free to go outside right now and practice! See you in the creek, neighbor.