The Wisdom of the River: Lessons Learned

Over the past few years I have watched the popularity of whitewater rafting grip the vacation market. "Strange", I thought. "Why would floating down a river become such a hotly contested vacation destination?" Today, I understand this phenomena completely. There is a wisdom and lesson that only the river can teach. It is a lesson that I intend to learn as often as possible.

Whitewater rafting has become one of America's favorite recreational activities for many reasons. There are several theories on this but I think the majority of them miss the mark. The fans argue that what makes the whitewater experience so compelling, so satisfying, and so incredibly exhilarating is that it is REAL! This primal adventure is beyond comparison. "This ain't your daddy's video game adventure!"

Although I consider this to be partially true. I believe that the reason that whitewater rafting has become so popular is because it teaches everyone who travels the river the most important spiritual lesson we could ever learn. All students understand the lesson while they are on the river but often forget it when they return to civilization.

On the river, all you have is the "now." That is the ultimate high and profound lesson that the river teaches. The past and the future are of no value when you are amidst the challenge of navigating the whitewater rapids. What happened upstream or what might happen downstream are of no consequence while you become completely absorbed in the joy of the present.

NOW. It is all that there is. The river drives this message home with tremendous clarity and excitement.

Stop and think of how different life would be for you if you could apply this simple wisdom to your life. I often sit incredulously when I realize how I have let past upsets disrupt my peace of mind. That can't happen on the river!

On the river the distinctions of past, present and future become amazingly clear. Very simply you recognize that the wake that is left behind does not navigate the raft. Likewise the future is uninteresting when compared to the exhiliaration of being totally 100% in the here and "now."

The metaphor is quite profound.

Over the years I have watched tourists navigate the rapids and it never ceases to amaze me! When you watch a group of vacationers all get "the NOW" message together, the exhiliaration is beyond comparison as they leave the past behind and partake in the challenge of the moment. The excitement and enthusiasm is contagious and a wonder to behold.

Likewise, I often wonder how these vacationers return to their lives and if they remember the message they learned on the river?


Every time I feel the need to make excuses I remember the lessons that I have learned on the river.


Guess where I am headed for my next vacation?

All aboard!


Be careful what you agree with.

Harald Anderson is the co-founder of a leading online gallery of Motivational Posters."When Art Inspires, Dreams Become Realities. His goal in life is to become the kind of person that his dog already thinks he is.

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