Returned from the river

August 15, 2006

I just returned from 16 days of vacation in northern California. The second week of this trip was spent kayaking down the Klamath River. I’ve never spent an extended period of time on a river before and it had a profound effect on my mindset. So many things now seem to be understood within the metaphor of the river.

Most of the river is hidden. The surface of the river might seem calm and happy, while just underneath a powerful current pushes and pulls. We slide effortlessly down the river most of the time, but every once in a while the hidden power of the river will surge up in a wave or pull you down into a hole.

Navigating the river is about knowing when to trust it, and when to direct it. The power of the river is so strong that you can never directly oppose it. It’s much better to use arms, legs, and oars to bend your course in the river, than to use them to try to go against it. The former will let you borrow from the strength of the river while the latter will only tire you out.

I also read a great book while on this trip called The Wisdom of Insecurity. It was incredibly applicable to the trip as a whole. The gist of it is that it’s often fear of insecurity that drives one to seek security in life. However, the true nature of insecurity is what leads to surprise, wonder, gratitude, and love. Being comfortable with insecurity became familiar to me, and seemed to be connected with the real nature of nature. Kayaking the river wouldn’t have been as much fun if every twist and turn was known beforehand. Sure, it’s a cliché revelation, but it’s always nice when you can experience a cliché firsthand rather than simply letting them slide meaninglessly over you. For, what is a cliché other than a piece of wisdom that has ceased to have meaning due to simplified repetition? Both the river and the book were good tools for me to crack the meaning back out of the phrase.

I’m looking forward to getting back on my feet over here.

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I’m back…

July 11, 2006

I forgot to mention here that I was going to spend 10 days at a silent retreat.  Well, I just got back and have lots of new ideas for ways to take mutual-improvement to the next level.  Stay tuned.