One of the strongest lessons I’ve learned about navigating life is to find ways to get closer to nature. It slows me down and calms me. It reminds me that I’m a part of something greater than myself, but it also shows me who we are.
The Mississippi River moves 1.6 million gallons of water every second and has done so for centuries. The waters ebb and flow down to the Gulf of Mexico and rise and fall as the seasons change. Left to its own devices, it expands beyond its banks flooding as far as it can until it’s convinced to shrink back to its natural borders. We can’t live in that kind of instability though, can we? To live not knowing when the river will grow past its banks and decide to claim more and more land until it’s laid siege to any and everything it wants. That’s why we build levees, flood walls, gates, and pumps because they keep the river at bay and allow us to live with something so naturally remarkable. However, there come times where you just can’t control something that great.
I think, as we strive to live healthy lives — mentally, physically, spiritually— we each grapple with our own rivers, lakes, and waterways. We find ways to live with them, keeping them at bay so that we can grow and expand and lead fulfilling lives without the fear of one day waking up to find parts of us just inundated. So, we build our own systems of protection to keep us from being overwhelmed by the incredibly powerful things that live inside us. We build our own levees to manage the raging emotions that we hold, and flood gates that we open to release pressure from heavy storms. These become the delicate practices that keep our partnership with our own nature intact. Even still, with our best efforts, sometimes the rain is too heavy. Sometimes the levee gets weak. Sometimes the river is just going to eclipse the guardrails you gave it. What then?