Life is a river, not a lake

Life does not standstill, it is constantly moving, constantly flowing. Like a river sometimes the flow is nice and calm and other times much faster. I recently used this analogy of comparing the water of a river and a lake when someone was struggling with an issue at work that was causing her stress and affecting their attitude and thereby her decision making.

The ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao Tsu said if we are depressed, we are living in the past, if we are anxious, we are living in the future, we can only be at peace if we are living in the present. To explain this, I asked the person I was talking with, to imagine themselves standing in a river, the only water that was currently touching them is the present, the water that has flowed downstream is the past. The water upstream, which hadn’t yet reached her was the future.

The issue that she had with a colleague had passed, the other person had almost certainly already forgotten it and moved on, so for them the issue was very much downstream and as such she needs to imagine being in the river and not a lake where the same water and issues remained more constant. I believe living in the moment does not mean that we should ignore the past or the future. We should learn from the past and through our experiences then be able to act and react to the here and now in a more controlled way and plan more effectively for the future.

Think about the word itself ‘Present’ dictionary definitions will offer you ‘now’ ‘attendance’ and ‘gift’. Are these 3 different definitions, they can certainly be used in very different ways. I propose you consider all 3 wrapped together in one context that you are in attendance, now and it is a gift.

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