The River as Metaphor

Okay, so this is what it’s like for me.  I am on a raft on the river.  I have an paddle with which to steer and move the raft along.  For the most part, the current of the river moves me along with it.  I have the ability to stop the raft, pull it up on shore, portage it or paddle it up stream.  If I want, I can jump off the raft and swim, tread water, float, flounder and even drown.  Where ever I go, I have to take the raft with me.  I can look at the raft as my burden, my home, my salvation, my transport, or a combination of all of these things.  Always, however, I am afloat on the River of Life.

Like any river, this river is forever changing, and moving.  At certain spots it flows very slowly, at others it flows very rapidly and threatens to overturn the raft and leave me for dead.  Then, there are times when the river is calm and smooth and relaxing.  I don’t know what the river is going to be like tomorrow.  I can’t see what is up ahead.  There may be more calm, it may slow down to practically nothing, or wild white water might be just around the bend.

Sometimes I pull in close to the river bank and try to stay in one place, not wanting to change anything. Sometimes I try to paddle up river to get back to where I was before, a better time, a happier time.  Sometimes I am paddling to move quicker downstream to get away from what is happening to me now.  Then there are the times that I am sitting, floating, just allowing the river to move me along.  These are times of relaxation and peace.  I can focus on all that is about me at that moment.  I can appreciate the fish, the vegetation, the animals, the birds, the flower and insects that also make the river their home.  I can bask in the dappled sunlight or lie in wonder as I stare up at the starry sky.  I will never know what is ahead.  My task then, is to be in the moment and observe.

I am not alone on this journey.  I have a pilot with me.  I can call the pilot, God, Spirit, Energy, Source, Guardian Angel, or Frank.  It really doesn’t matter what I call this him or her. The pilot knows the river; has traveled it and knows what’s around the bend.   I have a choice.  I can let the pilot take charge of guiding the raft, offer advice as to the next part of the journey.  Or, I also have the option of disregarding my pilot.  It’s my raft after all.

I floated down this river of life for many years disregarding my pilot’s advice. I figured I could do it all on my own.  How hard to float on a raft?  Why would I need a pilot?  I have the intellect, I can learn and I can apply what I learn.  It’s more fun, I thought, to do this on my own.  So my pilot sat on the corner of the raft and I went to work keeping things afloat and moving smoothly.

I didn’t do such a great job.  I found addiction and dysfunction and almost lost the raft and my life.  I’m learning to let the pilot take the helm.  I’m learning to let go.  I’m learning that my real mission in life is to enjoy it, enjoy the river right now. There’s a lot more to learn, but as I travel down the river of recovery, I have the time to learn.  And I don’t have to do it alone.  Along with my pilot, you’re here.

I am grateful for your presence.



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