I remember a time when I was hesitant to jump into a river, immobilized in fear. I stood there, knowing I was caught between a rock and a hard place. There was no way of turning back, and my mind couldn’t fully comprehend the idea of splashing into the current, a dark and murky flow. My feet seemed stuck to the ground.
As I stood waiting for my turn to jump, my extreme anxiety was alleviated by a little push from either a cousin or one of our neighborhood friends – that’s not important.
What is important is that I stood there in my shorts, terrified of what could have been one of the thrills of an adventurous young boyhood. What I now realize is that, given the opportunity to step up or show up in life, I have always and deliberately (unless someone or something else pushes me over the edge) chosen to gauge the opportunity of plunging into a stream of unfamiliarity as being an unworthy activity. In resisting the depth and vastness of the unknown, I have robbed myself of opportunities, time and again.
I have always struggled to reconcile my intuitive being, and the unknowing of what lies bubbling beneath the river of my feelings, with that part of me that does not take chances.
When we left our houses and set out on our day’s adventure – a group of young boys out to enjoy the experience of the swelling river for the first time, after the first summer rains – our hearts were brimming with joy. The excitement was palpable. Little did I know that, when it was my turn to take the plunge, I became aware of how naked, how vulnerable, I was, and how my fears were exposed. Disappointment crept in, and so did the feeling of having lost a chance, of being unable to bring to life what I believed in.
Although I wouldn’t call this indignity – and it’s probably best that I don’t give it a name – I have a sense that I am watching myself perceiving something other than what I am doing, and noting that something is passing me by, like the flow of the river – something bigger and better than the gravitational pull beneath my feet. It is an awareness of experiencing the space between dreams and reality, every day; the space between being wholly present in the river of life and feeling hopeless for being separate from it.
What I know is that, should I not have been pushed into the water, I might have missed out on understanding that what is mysterious to the naked eye can be magical to the open heart. Being reminded of this, it is inspiring for me to reimagine myself in childhood, placing my feet in the river just to feel what is bubbling beneath the surface. What I didn’t know back then – and what I comprehend now – is the joy of the gentle, mysterious flow of life within each one of us.