How silly, I thought when first coming across this quote in one of the 3 books I'm currently reading. It wasn't until later that it struck me just how deep this analogy was for change. Not only is the river not the riverbed, our lives too aren't just defined by the seeming constants of them (whether found in the blessings of profound relationships or the isolation of illness, loss, or what have you). Rather, it's as Heralitus alluded: "The only real constant is change."
As much as we may want to resist the river's current, we simply can't unplug life's forward movement (as this book's author suggests). In fact, to resist the flow is to choose further suffering. Sadly, many of us know that all too well. It is incredibly wrenching when faced with having to let go of people and things we've cherished so deeply that they've seemingly become one with our very nature. Yet, as Merritt Jones adds, to try and force change before it's ready is like trying to make the river flow faster — an exercise in futility.
That certainty of change can understandably create a fair degree of anxiety. So, what do you do with it? While, say, having faith in God and seeing reality through that wider prism can provide a greater sense of purpose, most of us, if we're honest with ourselves, contend with worry at some point or another. Its anxiousness ebbs and flows through our lives. In response, we do our best to mitigate the unknowns as much as possible. We build faith, routine, expectations, support, whatever it is that can seemingly add stability and preparation for those trials that may come at any time. Some are seen from afar and dreaded, while others arrive suddenly and forcefully where we can barely breathe; it may take a long time to recover.
The point of this muse is not really to give some all-knowing dissertation on preparing for or even triumphing in those challenges of life, but more just wondering how we deal with the inevitability of actual uncertainty.
Increasingly, I've found find that while some "do" life better perhaps than others, no one has theirs fully mastered. That is both sobering yet liberating too. If, for example, we're approximating an A for effort, we don't have to justify and beat ourselves up for not getting an A+! Maybe for some of us, it's a B, C or even D. I don't know, but you get the gist. As a friend recently noted, "We all carry what we can carry." Simple, yes, but oh how true. We are all unique — what comes easy for some may be challenging for another. Each of us have our own burden and lot to contend with, and that's enough already!
None of us like change or uncertainty nor the hardships it may bring. I'm discovering though that remaining in our perfectly constructed nests will never help us look beyond our own self-imposed boundaries and into the mystery and adventure of life itself. It's rather like C.S. Lewis so humourously wrote:
"It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad."
After all, on the other side of uncertainty, change, hurt, and challenges is a world of growth, wonder and possibility.