This was first posted on my blog The Real World as I prepared to leave Namibia. I have included some of the thoughts I had on the future just a year earlier.
“What I love most about rivers is you can’t step in the same
The water’s always changing, always flowing
But people I guess can’t live like that
They all must pay a price
To be safe we lose our chance of ever knowing
What’s around the river bend”
Like the river that is flowing by, every moment is new. We all know this. It’s common sense. Every minute things change. People are born and die. People leave, fall in love, decide to follow God. We know this.
Even though things are changing on us every minute we cling to the illusion that we have control over each outcome, each change. We plan. We worry. We replan and recheck. We resist.
The only thing that trying to control everything does is make it harder to admit we don’t have control over everything. In fact we have control of very little, mainly our reaction to change.
Resistance creates a dam in our river. The water backs up and becomes mucky, full of snails that carry disease or twigs that snag our thoughts, pulling us down. Resistance keeps us from moving forward.
I experienced this when I first decided to return to the States. I built a damn of resistance in my head. I filled my water with negativity. Everything from “I have no money” to “It is too cold.” I swam around with them for a while. Until I couldn’t anymore.
I took down my dam. I let the negativity come out to be pushed to the shore. I swam down my river, cleaning it of all the things that scared me and started to see all the beautiful things about going home. My family and friends, free time, new opportunities, my car.
It is difficult to describe the feeling of rigid flexibility you need to get along in this world. You need to be able to plan, but when they fall through you need to be able to see the adventure that an unplanned span of time can bring us. When some volunteers and I were on our big road trip last year, we made a plan and it fell to pieces. Still each unplanned step brought things we would have never experienced on our own terms.
Let your plans fall apart. Don’t worry too much what is coming around the river bend. You’ll get there when you get there and when you do, it’s usually more fantastic than you ever planned for yourself anyway.
Tomorrow I face the next bend in my river. I leave Namibia at peace and excited for the things ahead. Back out into the World! What a Real World it is!!