Marica's meanderings

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Natural flow

Why is that we always equate natural flow with moving forwards? It has permeated our culture and our beings. This is typified in sayings like 'onwards and upwards'. We always focus on moving forward. This is the power of positive thinking and is great. However, if we continually exclude going backwards from our psyche we deny an unavoidable reality that faces all of us at some time in our lives. If going forwards is the 'right' way then going backwards is perceived as the 'wrong' way. Is this really true?

I was reminded of this when Lynsey asked me this morning to look at the picture I posted the other day of Huka Falls and describe to him how I would navigate down the river. I looked at the picture. I realised straightaway that it wouldn't be happening in a nice, organised and gentle straight line, and that I wouldn't necessarily always be moving in only one direction. I would be curving in out and out as determined by the natural course of the river which isn't always visible. There are so many things to consider like the amount of water flowing, the many obstacles in your path like rocks, bushes and trees. I may find myself swirling around, maybe even going under the water, or possibly moving backwards. Eventually, I would get back into the natural flow that would lead me towards my destination. It may not always be the destination originally intended but it will be a destination - a short break, before embarking on the next adventure, the next destination.

Life imitates nature in a myriad of ways only we don't realise it.

I have just been reading about experiential learning and how we only learn from experience by ascribing meaning to that experience. The most common way to do this is to reflect on the experience. How many people really learn from their experiences? The thing is it takes time and skill to even know how to do this effectively. Do we teach this to our learners as a valuable life skill? Are we actually equipping people to navigate the river of life through what they learn in compulsory education? Are we enabling them to live full and fruitful lives in the 21st century? Maybe we all need to learn the skills of white water rafting to help us along the way.

I had a very special friend Nola who lost her battle with cancer back in August. Nola had a list of things she wanted to do before she died and she was busy trying to work her way through that list. Unfortunately, she never had the pleasure of crossing the last item off. Maybe there would never be a last item anyway because as we experience things we always think of new things we want to experience. The pursuit of these things often brings the greatest joy. Nola believed we should all have a list like this and that we shouldn't wait until we're sick to create it. She also believed we shouldn't wait to start doing the things on this list.

One of the things I am going to put on my list is to try white water rafting!

Going forwards isn't always the best option - experience has taught me that. Learning to let go of the things you can't control and accepting those you can is a painful lesson I always struggle with.

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