Life Lessons from a High School Basketball Game
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Life is a River

Life is a river 2

“The President’s in town.” Seems a simple enough statement. But, when you live in Los Angeles, it sparks a murmur — more often a roar — about something that can bring on blood-boiling discussions in the lives of Los Angelinos.


Roads are closed. Detours abound. And, at times tempers needlessly flare. Traffic flow stops flowing.

Or does it? If you stop to think about for a sec, doesn’t the flow just… change direction? And, if that is true, will those who actually “go with the flow”, planning for and accepting what is, be able to deal with the new traffic flow with reasonable ease and diminished aggravation?

It reminded me of a Colorado whitewater rafting trip I took a few years ago. During the mini-prep session prior to the romp down the rapids, our guide helped us don our life jackets, coaching us as much as possible on what might confront us: “lean into the raft” and “don’t fight the wave by leaning away from it.” 

So, what happened when our raft banked a huge boulder in the midst of an angry rapid? I did just as I was instructed not to; I leaned away from it instead of rolling with the movement of the boat. I fell out, crashing to the bottom of the river, smashing against the rocks.

In that split second, I remembered his last instruction, “If you fall out, relax your body and don’t fight the water. Relax and go with the flow.” Oddly, in the throes of the adrenaline-racing action, my body did calm and I was easily lifted back to safety.

In many ways, life is like that river. Rivers are powerful and rich forces of nature that surge with purpose toward their ultimate destination, usually a larger body of water. The course of the river is called its path, and along the path are a myriad of changes that shift its course: calm pools of water, swampy marshes, shallow, rocky streams; rough rapids and waterfalls. These all cascade the river as it searches for that final destination.

The particles and inhabitants of the river understand its flow and current, travelling with the ebb and tide as obstacles and disruptions enter the river path.

A life in flow has the same attributes

I’m not talking about conformity or status quo here, but rather the sense of peace and release that comes from surrendering to the organic flow of your life and the unknown circumstances you encounter each day. When I’ve felt most centered in my life and most sure in my choices was when things flowed easily from one event to the next, like liquid. It’s also when I’ve felt the most “on purpose.”

How do you live a life like a river?

Here are a few thoughts to get you started:

  • You may not be able to control your environment at times, but you can control your reaction to your environment. Act like a duck in the water and let it roll off your back. Don’t fret over what you can’t control. Ask yourself, “Is there something I can do about what is happening out there?” If not, let it go.
  • Pay attention to how your body responds to your own actions and decisions. If the rapids start to roll in your belly, chances are it’s a decision or action you want to take another look at. That’s your intuition speaking to you about what’s right for you.
  • Get back to what you love. When you focus on what you love to do and whom you love to be with, the flow rises up to meet you.
  • Be in gratitude. When you project gratitude for what’s working in your life, more of the same flows back to you.
  • Set clear intention for your desired destinations along your life path. When your sights are set toward those destinations, the flow surges forward forcefully.
  • Embrace the detours. Rivers have numerous branches and streams. It’s the same with life. Sometimes the detours bring new and more interesting choices. It could lead to a watershed event in your life!

So, when life throws you a curve or forces a detour, remember the river. Relax and go with the flow.