Tag Archives: life

The River as Life

Barbara Brady

To get us all in the mood for summer, here’s a piece from Barbara Brady about a trip down the Green River last summer that also teaches some good life lessons.

It was a perfect July day:  84 degrees and sunny. The water was high and moving fast as each of us lowered ourselves into the inner tubes that would carry us down the Green River in Saluda, NC over the next 2 ½ hours. After careening over several patches of white water, I felt bliss, connected to the blue sky, trees, dragonflies swooping down on us, the gurgling, rushing sounds of the white water, and our group of friends. I felt awe at the power of the river, but I also started seeing it as a metaphor for life.

When it’s moving fast, you don’t want to buck the current, but you need to trust and go with the flow. On this trip, I noticed that, while I usually let the river take me where it wanted, at times I tried to steer with my hands. A few times I stayed in place, paddling my hands against the current until others caught up. And it got tiring. I wondered how often we use others as our excuse to not go when life is beckoning, and in what other ways we hold ourselves back from letting ourselves completely go with the flow of life. At one point, a friend and I were on the river’s edge, holding on to separate branches, waiting for the others. When it was time to get back in the main flow, she told me to let go and she’d catch me. I tried reaching for her, forgetting I was still holding onto the branch. She reminded me: “Let go of the branch!” I let go, and she easily caught me and pushed me towards the middle of the river. Of course! You can’t let the river take you or someone help you if you’re still holding on to something on the side.

At the end, I floated right past our landing point.  And, once out of the tube, I found myself over my head. The tube bobbed downstream. I tried swimming against the current to the other side but made little headway, with sneakers weighing me down and an empty plastic water bottle in one hand. Panicking, I screamed for help, and a woman swam to me and finally got us out. I relearned the necessity of asking, even yelling for help when I’m in over my head, not taking anything that will weigh me down on my journey, and letting go of extraneous stuff (the water bottle) that’s keeping me from living life fully. I also learned the folly of tubing without a life preserver!

So how about you? In what ways are you resisting where life is calling you to next? How often do you try to control your direction rather than allow life to lead and show you the way? What are those things you’re holding onto (attachments, resentment, worry), that are keeping you on life’s edge vs. in the flow of life? How often do you ask for help when you need it?

Check out “Find the River” by R.E.M.: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIJGlTu5sEI.



Not Enough Hours in the Day


I’m frustrated.  I really want to get more balance in my life–to have the life I imagine on a daily basis, where there is time in the afternoon for a cup of tea or time in the morning to sit and read the paper.  But I’m starting to think that my problem may not be mine.  It may just be a matter of mathematics!  Let’s consider the numbers!

If you figure there are 7 days in a week, and each day has 24 available hours, that’s 168 hours allotted to us each week.  If you take away 40 hours for work, minimum, you get 128 left, but I would have to add in an extra five a week, at least, for the extra hours that go into work each week.  So, that brings us to 123.  Then, if you figure tht most normal people (myself excluded) spend at least 40 hours sleeping during the work week and 20 on the weekend, that brings our remaining hours to 63.  (And I have to take off the same number of hours here, since I never do a damn thing in the middle of the night that could be considered either balanced or productive–and I would be sleeping, if only I knew how!).


Next, if you take off 21 hours/week for meals (3 hours/day, since I’m including prep time, eating time, and cleaning up time), that brings us to 42–(or, 44, if you add an hour or two back for the mornings where your daughter is eating her bowl of cereal and bananas in the car on the way to school!).


If you figure you drive at least an hour per day just going places–school, work, the grocery store, to pick up someone somewhere–plus there’s got to be at least another hour per day spent doing stupid stuff that you have to do to get through life, such as calling to make doctor’s appointments (or to apologize for forgetting your doctor’s appointment) or working on your taxes or filling out the damn FAFSA or answering some stupid survey on the phone that you picked up because you don’t have Caller ID and then felt sorry for the poor college student asking the questions, you can take off another 14, leaving 28.  And then, you might try taking off an hour a day for exercise, if you are really driven, but let’s say you’re normal and average only about 4 hours a week, on a good week, so now you’re at 24.  And you’ve got to take about five extra hours off on the weekend to catch up on everything you couldn’t do during the week, so you end up at about 19. Continue reading Not Enough Hours in the Day