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May 07

The River of Life

I remember taking several canoeing trips when I was younger and one in particular still provides me with life lessons to this day.  As I recall, it was the summer of 1986, me and two other friends decided to take an all day canoe trip on the Little Vermilion River from one side of town to the other. We gathered together some supplies for our trip, along with the canoe, and had one of our parents drop us off at the southwest side of town near the damn.  We launched just below the damn and started off on our trip.  The plan was to have my friend’s mom pick us up at a predetermined time on the east side of town at a designated pick up point.

An all day river adventure for three 14 year old boys was something right out of one of Mark Twain’s novels.  We certainly believed our expedition was going to turn out to be nothing short of amazing and I remember the exhilaration we all showed the entire trip.  Not only did our canoeing adventure serve to be a great bonding ritual between adolescents, it provided some unique lessons that we can gain insight from today.  As most of you know many small tributary rivers have switchbacks, varying water depths, and many impediments.  On our trip that day we experienced times when we floated along without any problems, then there were moments when we had to get out and drag the canoe for a short distance because the water level was too low.   We also came across fallen trees and branches in the river causing us to have to maneuver the canoe around those obstacles.  These difficulties, however, did not deter us and we pushed forward without hesitation with our spirits still set on high.

At about midway through our journey we came to a spot in the river that must have been a nesting ground for several species of snakes.  As we approached “ground zero” I remember looking at both sides of the river and seeing snakes everywhere.  As we humans approached we must have alarmed the vermin because they were scattering down trees and slithering into the water.  Of course, having all these snakes bail into the water certainly helped raise the pucker factor in all of us.  We tried to stay calm, but low and behold we approached a dead tree limb protruding about halfway into the river.  It is critical to note, there just happened to be one of the biggest snakes I had ever seen in the woods laying on the fallen tree limb we were fast approaching (Murphy’s Law).  As you might imagine, we panicked and started screaming not knowing exactly what to do.  The fight or flight instinct took over and we started violently paddling against the current doing everything we could to avoid that big ass snake!  Fear overcame us and we did not act in our best interests; the exact details are sketchy in my mind but I think one of my friends jumped out of the canoe while I and my other buddy grabbed a tree limb and tried to avoid floating near the giant serpent of death (just a little embellishment).  Eventually we realized there was no other way and allowed ourselves to float under the limb.  Point being, we made it safely past the den of snakes and laughed about it on the other side.

Living life can be a lot like floating down a river in a canoe.  Often there will be times when life is going good and nothing can get you down.  However, there will certainly be many obstacles that will come your way and like the river obstacles you just have to keep pushing forward, do not be deterred, and keep your emotional well-being in check.  The biggest lesson to be learned is the fear we encountered that day on the river.  If we wouldn’t have succumbed to our fears we would have easily floated right past those snakes without any problems whatsoever.   Instead, we lost control of our senses and attempted to row against the current while one of us left the boat altogether.  When we encounter hardships in our lives we can’t allow fear to overcome us, consequently, making us go against the current of life.  It may be hard to accept but sometimes you just have to let go and let the “river” carry you, unscathed, past what you accumulated so much anxiety over.  Don’t let fear ruin your journey.

Permanent link to this article: http://channelingmyself.com/2011/05/the-river-of-life/

36 comments

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  1. Julie

    I was thinking,”That’s a good methaphor for life,” somewhere at the beginning of the trip before the snakes! Snakes scare the cr** out of me. I just had a bad snake dream a couple of weeks ago which, now that you mention it, IS a metaphor of fear, and it was just like you describe where you gradually become aware that they are all around you. Yikes!
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    1. Todd | Channelingmyself

      I don’t particularly care for snakes either, and let me add I think the big one was an escape pet that wasn’t native to that region of the state. I almost want to say that it was some kind of constrictor.

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  2. Personal Development

    Wow! I was cringing as I was reading about you approaching those snakes. Scary!

    I think this is a really good metaphor for fear. Those snakes were nothing but the emotion of fear, creating in our minds. What did the snakes actually do? Nothing. But the FEAR did a lot. Luckily, fear is something we can learn to manage.

    Great lessons! 😀
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    1. Todd | Channelingmyself

      Fear can really have quite and impact on our lives if we give in to it. Thanks for the comment, Fred.

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  3. Melody Fletcher

    “helped raise the pucker factor…” LOL. What a great metaphor for illustrating how our perception of something causes our reaction.

    I personally have no issues with snakes. But if there had been a spider… :)

    Great blog Todd!

    Hugs,
    Melody
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    1. Todd | Channelingmyself

      Hi Melody thanks for the comment. I have a bigger fear of spiders than snakes but still it was a pretty scary moment in that canoe. Isn’t it amusing how that in many cases we can come out of a fearful situation and usually sit back and laugh about it?

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  4. Dia

    Hi Todd,

    Fear cripples many people daily. If we don’t confront our fears, then we won’t grow and our fears win. Also, fears arise from lack of belief. We have to recognize our fears, then take the necessary actions to overcome them, so we can eliminate anxiety and worry from our lives as much as possible. Thanks for sharing Todd

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    1. Todd | Channelingmyself

      Hi Dia,

      Thanks for the comment, fear can be such a controlling factor in our lives and it is never easy to ignore it. I think the best we can do is to realize we have the fear and do our best to keep it in check.

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  5. David | Almost Bohemian

    Wow. I had some high anxiety reading that. I thought for sure you guys were going to fall in the water or something. But the lesson you came away with is spot on. We can’t row against the current just because we get a little afraid.

    I think about this a lot, because I’m in a job that pays enough but not amazing and its definitely not the job I dream of. That said, I dont want to be afraid to leave and pursue the things I want. But also, being afraid isnt a reason to stay or leave. I guess right now I’m sitting in the canoe and I’m going to wait for a better time to get off. Though I can say, that time is getting close.

    Sorry, thats confusing. But it makes sense to me. Thanks for the thoughtful post! Neat story!

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    1. Todd | Channelingmyself

      Thanks for the comment David. I know how you feel about the job, I am in a similar situation. For me, it is a little fear mixed with some non-motivation to have to pursue something else.

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  6. Kenya

    Excellent story Todd! Going through a current lesson right now on staying balanced in the face of adversity or with anything else. Especially with fear…when you are centered and balanced, your mind and instincts can process what it is you are to do next. Fear is like a living entity…it is not logical and it tends to take over. So glad you guys made it away safely!
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    1. Todd | Channelingmyself

      Thanks for the comment, Kenya. I hope everything works out for you. Don’t succumb to the fear and you will be fine.

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      1. Kenya

        :)
        Kenya recently posted..Divine Flow as Psychic Abilities GrowMy Profile

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        Twitter: psychicjazz

  7. Justin| Mazzastick

    Todd,
    Great example of trusting life and ‘going with the flow” despite outward appearances.

    There is a cool river about a mile down the road from my house where people go canoeing and tubing. There may be some snakes in there.

    You asked about the picture that goes with your comment. It is called a Gravatar, here is the link:http://en.gravatar.com/
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    1. Todd | Channelingmyself

      Thanks for the link Justin. We don’t necessarily have canoeing rivers here in Colorado so that is something that I do miss. Hope you can get a chance to go soon.

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  8. Ching

    “Don’t let fear ruin the journey.” What a powerful concept and statement. Very hard to live by those words when our little monkey minds start yelling at us. But when we do and act anyway, wow! What freedom!

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    1. Todd | Channelingmyself

      Thanks for commenting. Fear can be very hard to overcome when we let our minds imagine the worst.

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  9. Sibyl - alternaview

    Such a great message and so true. There are going to be all kinds of waves that life throws our way and our job is to manage through them all in the very best way. Thanks for the inspiration.
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    1. Todd | Channelingmyself

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting Sibyl. Managing through the waves is about the best we can hope for.

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  10. van025

    An meaningful message from you.I always like to read your story so I can get many useful things.
    Life is a river and each of us is a canoe that we must sail this.
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  11. Andrew Walker

    Very inspiring story you got here, Todd. I always find it hard to overcome the feeling of fear. By the way, I believe that the creation of religion has something to do with this fear feeling, fear of death.
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    1. Todd | Channelingmyself

      Hi Andrew,

      I agree that religion has certainly played a role in the creation of the fear of death, especially with the advent of hell.

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  12. Alison

    Hey Todd,

    This reminded me of a quote from Bruce Lee – “Feel the fear, but do it anyway!”….inspirational article, thanks!

    Alison
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    1. Todd | Channelingmyself

      Hi Alison,

      That quote sums it up best, we certainly felt the fear and ended up doing it anyway.

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  13. Charlotte

    I like the metaphor of the river as life. Sometimes letting go of your fear and going with the flow is the best way, it’s just freeing yourself to do so.

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    1. Todd | Channelingmyself

      Hi Charlotte,

      Letting go of fear is one of the biggest obstacles we all face in life. Thanks for commenting.

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  14. waterpearls

    Hi Todd,
    It is a very nice and interesting post.You resemble life with floating down river very beautifully and I like the point most that in life many obstacles that will come our way like the river obstacles and we just have to keep pushing forward.
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    1. Todd | Channelingmyself

      Hi Waterpearls,

      I agree, when we come across those obstacle we just need to keep pushing forward and do our best to not let fear take over. Thanks for the comment.

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  15. Valerie

    Dear Todd,thanks this came at a good time when I am have some difficulties but it was good to be reminded not to let fear get the better of me.
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    1. Todd | Channelingmyself

      Hi Valerie,

      We all struggle with letting fear be the master over us. Even though we do struggle if we persist we can overcome even our worst fears. Thanks for the comment.

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  16. Lynne Quintana

    This is an outstanding post about paradoxes we face in life … one of which can manifest itself in the arduous struggle we make of life by striving.

    I came across this thought recently that I think sums up some of the paradoxical nature of what we face and what you have written about –

    You can either carry on doing what you are doing(paddling up stream) and getting nowhere or you can make a decision today and decide to trust in the universe by dropping your oars, turn your boat around, face downstream(go with the flow) and go get those opportunities that are waiting for you.
    Trust that life can and will work out for you when you stop fighting against it.

    I look forward to your coming installments.

    Lynne

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    Twitter: coachestraining

    1. Todd | Channelingmyself

      Hi Lynne,

      Very well said, we just need to point our boat downstream and go with the flow. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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  17. Baker

    Going with the flow or not going with the flow has been the theme of my life. I have found that going with the flow feels a lot easier, and not going with feels a lot more resistant. I have gradually learned to trust the flow that feels best, even when it makes no logical sense whatsoever. It does become about trusting that higher part or deeper wisdom, even when things on the outside world feel rigid or challenging. Interesting read and wonderful metaphor.

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    1. Todd | Channelingmyself

      Hi Baker,

      I am a lot like you in regards to the flow of life. Overcoming fear seems to be my biggest obstacle, but I am glad to say I am doing much better. Thanks for commenting.

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  18. Edgar

    thanks for posting your articles so often, every day i access your website and check for updates.http://www.hdparanotebook.com

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  19. Sandra

    Great show Todd! Your analogy about the famrer vs. the hunter is a great way to bring your point across about face to face networking. How true it is sometimes we forget the importance of cultivating our relationships thanks for the reminder. Looking forward to your next show!

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    Twitter: TWsuhtmSKrOgSzBec

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