You can learn a lot about life from watching water flowing in a stream.
Most days when I’m out walking in the park, I just enjoy the fact that the creek is there. It’s pretty and the burbling sounds nice. But one day, I just stood there and watched as the water passed by … gravity in action.
Water flows downhill. It FLOWS downstream … by definition. If you want to give it human characteristics, it has an intention … to get to the sea, and it does what it has to do to get there.
And what it does is take the path of least resistance.
Water goes around things.
It may smack into rocks, downed tree trunks and the like en route, but it just goes over or around them. It may get shunted into pools and eddies, but all that does is slow down the flow somewhat. It doesn’t stop it.
That water has an ultimate destination … a destiny … and it just keeps moving till it fulfills it.
It doesn’t face off with the various obstructions in a contest of wills. It doesn’t seek to condemn them or try to remove them, although that would make things flow more easily. It just goes around them. It circumvents their influence.
No pushing against. Only working around.
How much different would our lives be if we spent less time and energy pushing against and more time working around?
If the idea is to get where you want to go, reach your goals, accomplish your mission, fulfill your destiny, it just makes sense not to get sidetracked into banging your head against the wall, whatever that wall might be.
If something’s in the way, you have several choices for how to deal with it, depending on the circumstances.
Ignore it. Maybe it really doesn’t matter and isn’t worth your attention in the first place.
Sidestep it. Find a legal, ethical way to get around the problem, rather than confronting it.
Supplant it. Unlike water, we can quickly remove obstacles. If someone or something isn’t working for you, be decisive and make a change. Don’t struggle and suffer with an unsatisfactory status quo. Find something better … a better answer … a better mousetrap … a better person. Take an Uber instead of a taxi.
Accept it. If it’s something you simply dislike but can live with, make peace with it and forget about it. Life will never be perfect.
Address it. And if we’re talking about something that’s just plain wrong in your world … an injustice … an intolerable situation … by all means address it. Unlike water, we have a brain. We have a conscience. We have a spine. We have the ability to change things for the better.
But here’s the thing, if you’re going to take on the challenge of changing the world, either your personal world or the world at large …
Enjoy it. Be a happy and righteous warrior. There’s no payoff in being stressed and miserable. There’s no victory if you lose your true, best self in the process.
And, as the advice above implies, you have to pick your battles. If it’s not a matter of conscience, of right and wrong, or an issue of happiness vs. misery … you might not want to strap on the armor.
As John Lennon said, “Life is very short, and there’s no time for fussing and fighting my friend.”
Fighting is an upstream, against the current kind of thing. To mix metaphors, most of the time, there’s no cheese down that tunnel.
Far better to be like water … and go with the flow.
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