The transitions in life are often the tricky things – the stages where we are caught between one state and another, often while everything and everyone around us feels like they have clarity about where they are headed and how they will get there. Our subtle envy of their streamlined motion, focused intention and clear direction can seep out in unusual ways, while learning to sit in the “in-betweens”, the discomfort of the not-knowings, is something we aren’t really taught by our dominant culture. The good news is, we can give you a chance to practice this on our canoe journeys. So whether you are leaving a job or soon to graduate, moving house or getting a new haircut, expecting a child, starting a business, engaged/soon to be married or having kids go off to school or fly the nest completely, these transitional phases are filled with challenges, some seen and predictable, but many subtle and unspoken.
“How can we be ok with potentially having our whole world flipped upside down?“
On our river journeys we get to practise embodying this transitional feeling when we exit the fast flowing water of a rapid and paddle into the gentler upstream flowing eddies below. As you cross from one state to the other it is helpful to have momentum and actively lean into where you are going, so you don’t get caught and capsized by the patch of “confused water” in between. If you find yourself unexpectedly here, resisting the process of moving forwards you will be at the mercy of the chaos, swirling in one direction, then the other, perhaps having your edges pulled under or pushed out, until one of the forces (whichever is greater) eventually draws you into its grasp, sending you further downstream, upside down or cruising back upstream again. Some people can laugh and go with this uncertainty, others grip their paddles and grit their teeth in the hope that this will help, but having an established focus, good momentum and a commitment to leaning fully into where you are going is key – particularly if the water is high or fast flowing.
So how can we apply the strategies that work in whitewater, to our lives?
How can we carry momentum into our transitions and not get stuck? How can we courageously lean into where we are going and not try to keep one foot behind us in a place that feels more comfortable and known? How can we be ok with potentially having our whole world flipped upside down?
This is an art we too are still refining and learning, but if you want to come and experiment alongside us – come join us on a journey. Sure, while you’re learning to work with the flows, you might accidentally lean a different way and find yourself flipping, but we’ll be there to support you as you bob up to the surface. In fact, it’s often in these moments of unexpectedness that we learn the most about ourselves – a great time to discover that even when nothing is going to plan, you can still be totally fine. And the more you immerse yourself in the unexpected and still access some sense of calm, the more you will start to feel and know deep in your soul, that everything will be ok whatever happens. A gentle invitation in loosening your grip on knowing and planning, an opportunity to practice no longer having expectations, being open-minded and prepared to respond to the emergent and GO WITH THE FLOW. Maybe you will taste this ease, maybe you will not, but even in the mysterious waters between where you have come from and where you think you are going…everything is alright.