Hello, all you creatures from the Third Dimension. I have no name, but I am the essence of who you are. I reside in a place known as the Fifth Dimension. It is a wonderful place where we possess unlimited intelligence, which means we have the power to know everything there is to know, since always and for always. There is only one problem here in the Fifth Dimension. We have no feeling. So even though we have the capacity to know everything, without the feeling to connect it to, we are forced to exist without what you call "emotions".
To tell you the truth, infinite intelligence has it's limitations. It's boring, you see. As a result, some of us up here periodically travel to the Third Dimension, where you reside, so we can get a hit of feeling. You see, without a body, there is no feeling. We have to enter a physical body every now and then to get high, so to speak.
Confused? Well, let me explain. In your world, most of you limit yourselves to what you can see, touch, hear, smell, and taste. There are actually many more senses than that, but few of you are willing to experience them. It's a shame, because they are a lot of fun to play with. All of you have one thing in common, just as we do here in the Fifth Dimension. You are all what your scientists and a few enlightened teachers would call "energy". Everything about you is energy. Thought is energy; food is energy; the river is energy; your life force, your essence, is energy. Now according to your very own scientists, who assume infinite intelligence, energy exists forever. That means it- and therefore you - exist before what you call birth and continues after what you call death. Unfortunately you haven't developed the devices to measure this energy before birth and after death. You'll just have to take my word. Remember, I do have infinite intelligence.
"In observing you I have noticed most of you have developed some rather peculiar habits . For instance, very few of you spend much time in the present - the here and now, even though that is the only time and only place you can be. Instead, you waste much of your time in the future or the past, wondering why, and how, and if only, and wishing you could do something over again, or worrying about what is to come and fearing that it might be more of the same.
This is particularly true of what you call "work". Frankly, there is no comparable word here in the Fifth Dimension, so it's hard to relate to it. Here we experience immense pleasure doing what we love to do. We can't figure out why anyone would want to work, which doesn't look like it's what any of you love to do. Certainly your schools don't teach you to do what you love. Your parents don't relate to doing what you love because they experienced something called the Depression, or they knew someone who did. So they believe it is important to find a job that pays the bills.
The way I see it, for the majority of you work is anything but a pleasurable experience, and certainly not a here and now one. Most of you don't like what you do (even if the pay is good and the benefits substantial). You go to bed at night hoping the alarm (now there's an aptly named device) won't go off. When you get to work in the morning you start anticipating your first break, then lunch, then another break, and finally the end of the day. Certainly nothing present about that, eh?
Anyhow, some of us here in the Fifth Dimension want to lend a hand in encouraging you to enjoy yourselves more, especially in your work experience, because it has such a profound effect on you, your health, your family, your peers, your company, and your country. So we're bending the rules a little, to share with you some infinitely intelligent information that will help you all lighten up. It's called the Puzzle Theory of Life, and if you pay attention, it can help you take a lot of pressure off. It's the pressure that comes when you compare yourselves to others, when you judge yourself and others, when you compete rather than cooperate. In particular, it's the stress, actually I should say dis-stress, that occurs when you insist on living your life the way others have dictated.
"Please understand that we here in the Fifth Dimension have an advantage over you. We have infinite intelligence, while you have intellectual intelligence. Intellectual intelligence is limited because it represents the sum total of what you have learned since you entered the Third Dimension. Much of what you have learned since birth has been given to you by others. These "gifts' are known as beliefs, and you have mistakenly reinforced them without being consciously aware.
"To explain this Puzzle Theory of Life, I will need a character. This character begins it's existence here, in the Fifth Dimension, as energy possessing infinite intelligence. Some of you are fond of labelling this energy soul energy. For the sake of you in the Third Dimension, who seem to require separate identities, I shall call this soul energy Yahoo. At some point Yahoo becomes bored here and decides to travel to the Third Dimension. In order to make the experience there more interesting, Yahoo plans what it will do during it's stay in it's physical body. So Yahoo sits down at the word processor and writes out the story of it's life based on what it desires to learn. Yahoo is committed to being on purpose at all times, so whatever it writes is how it will come to pass.
Except for one thing. Yahoo knows about free will and free choice. All this means is, since it's life story will be stored in a computer memory bank, it can be retrieved and any portion of the story can be rewritten. What this means is , when Yahoo enters the Third Dimension at birth, it will retain the power to change it's course in life at any time. If it chooses not to exercise it's power of free will, then it will experience life exactly as it has been written.
So, just prior to leaving the Fifth Dimension, Yahoo takes a look at the complete picture of it's life. It notes all that will happen, unless free will is exercised, in all aspects, physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, sexual. It notices what it has choreographed regarding family, social, religion, work, education, hobbies, marriage, children, money, and all the other details of life. In one glance, Yahoo sees it's life before it. That is the life that is about to be.
Yahoo also knows, because it has infinite intelligence, that at the precise moment it enters the physical body, again to make the game more interesting, it will forget the picture, and that it's purpose during the length of it's lifetime, will be to remember what it has forgotten. The remembering will be perceived as learning, and will come through the experiences it has written into the script of it's life. Yahoo also knows that it will spend the vast majority of it's life believing in everything but what it knows at the soul level. Some know this as illusion, and define it as the process of seeing only one viewpoint, rather than knowing there are multiple viewing points for every experience. Yahoo knows that this limited thinking is from the intellect, and is appropriate because it is part of the learning/remembering process. So long as it trusts only in the intellect, it will remain in illusion. This is not bad, and it is not wrong, because there is no good or bad, no right or wrong, at the soul level. There are, however, consequences, and those are to be part of the learning/remembering experience.
So, Yahoo takes one last look at it's picture of the life about to be, and begins it's journey, which will last, according to it's pre-written story, until it has remembered all that was written, or rewritten, whichever is to be the case. After all, it would be boring if we knew exactly how the life experience would go. That's why we have free will and free choice.
The moment Yahoo enters the Third Dimension to become a Hu-Man (which means man/woman in balance), it immediately forgets what has been written. The picture disappears. But it isn't lost. Yahoo enters the world stark naked, and carries with her/him, a box with it's picture reduced to pieces of a puzzle. To make the game of life, because it is to be enjoyed, more interesting, there is no picture on the outside of the box.
At this point Yahoo has become a precognitive child, absolutely trusting, absolutely innocent, absolutely dependent on other Hu-Mans to nurture and protect her/him. And to add even more interest into the game, these Hu-Mans, known as parents, teachers, relatives, and civil, social, economic, and religious rule makers, assert their right as learned, response-able, adults. In unison they notice that Yahoo has no picture on the outside of the box, and they declare with well-intentioned concern, "you can't NOT have a box without a picture. It is up to us to make certain that you go through life the RIGHT way. That is, according to the laws we know to be the most appropriate. Therefore, we will give you a picture to guide you through the pitfalls of this struggle on earth."(Note: in the world of illusion, struggle and effort are an essential part of the belief system)
Now the picture Yahoo is eventually given depends on who he/she chose as influencers in his/her life story. Some of the influencers may be more or less enlightened, so the picture will reflect that in Yahoo's life, especially in the earlier years, when she/he is still trusting and innocent.
Let's review this, shall we? Yahoo has written a complete story of the life it will lead. And it has forgotten most, if not all of the story, as a result of it's journey from the Fifth Dimension. What remains is the complete picture in the form of puzzle pieces, in a box, with no identifying picture on the outside. Now who, in their right mind would attempt to put together a puzzle with no reference picture? Right, nobody, except maybe a couple of people in the back row.
Fortunately, there are many responsible adults waiting to impose their version of the correct life on Yahoo, and they gleefully do so, because part of their purpose in the world of illusion, is to assume the role of all knowing advice giver. It is a wonderful way to avoid telling the truth to themselves, you see.
Anyway, Yahoo, now a dependent being called a child, has a picture of how life is supposed to work, according to others. These others are well-intentioned, mind you, and doing the best they can with the existing awareness they possess in their own worlds of illusion.
Eventually Yahoo begins developing cognitive, or intellectual awareness. Little by little, he/she begins to learn "how life works" according to the picture on the outside of the box, and doesn't even consider looking inside, because there is no need. The "experts" have said so.
In case you haven't caught on, let me share a little secret with you. The picture on the outside of the box represents the belief system Yahoo has been given by the significant others in his/her life. This belief system is made up of a series of puzzle pieces that all fit together to make a nice neat picture designed to support Yahoo in growing up in their collective images. Each of these puzzle pieces is called a Paradigm.
A Paradigm is a pattern, that leads to a subconscious habit, and it is very powerful. What makes it so powerful is it's ability to keep us fixed in the pattern it represents. To do this, the Paradigm acts as both a filter and a screen, allowing through the screen mainly information that supports the Paradigm, and filtering out most of the information that would contradict it. As a result, shifting the Paradigm is very difficult, and the shift must occur in order to get to the puzzle pieces that fit.
Let’s start with a symbol, one that I’m calling the Symbol of Freedom. It looks like a circle, but for our purposes let’s refer to it as a Wheel. It’s the Symbol of Freedom because any time you choose, you can walk around the Wheel and find a fresh perspective, a new viewing point.
Let me offer an example. In 2013 I took a vacation, which is odd because my job as a raft guide in the Grand Canyon is like a vacation. It was a three week holiday in England visiting friends and on my last full day there I started seeing double. Not wanting to upset my friends, and thinking it would probably go away, I said nothing. To make a long story shorter, by the time I arrived in Boulder I not only was seeing double, I also had no balance.
My housemate took me immediately to the ER and the initial assessment was that I had a tumor. A tumor meant death to me, and that was my initial walk around the wheel. I chose not to focus on the possibility of a tumor, and instead decided to await to actual results. I found a different perspective, a different viewing point, ie, I didn’t jump to a conclusion like the doctor did, on which to focus. Had I not done that, I would have spent the entire time worrying about the tumor and its consequences.
And it’s a good thing I did, because the doctor’s viewing point was wrong. It wasn’t a tumor. That’s the good news. The other news, it was an infection, deep in the brain. My brain. Now I was tasked with finding a different viewing point, one that recognized the validity of the diagnosis but didn’t perceive it as a death sentence. I chose – notice the word “chose” – to allow the doctors to do their work – after all, I was going to be unconscious – while doing the hard work of maintaining a positive attitude, and after I woke up, to do whatever it takes to regain my strength and balance.
Life is not always “pleasant”, but if you’re looking for certainty and a comfortable place, stay close to home, and hold on to the comfort of your viewing point. The consequence could be making choices based on too little, or too much, information, living from only one place on the wheel, and resisting change. By being willing to walk around the wheel, you can expand into the unlimited possibilities offered by Life. It’s not about one way being better than the other. But it is about embracing the adventure before us with passion and aliveness, and taking responsibility for our perceptions, our choices and the results.
We have been imbued by our creator with free will to interpret our circumstances in the infinite number of ways open to us. This includes the choices we make and the outcomes we get. It is an awesome power, and at times, a potentially heavy burden. Because in the end, we realize we are responsible for the quality of our lives.
In future blogs I will offer examples of some of the people from my Grand Canyon river trips who chose to follow the path of adventure. Each person went where they never thought possible when they walked around the wheel.
In the early 90s I had a disturbing conversation with a retiring motor guide. He had been a very successful guide for fifteen years, and now he was contemplating making a transition that included moving to a big city and getting married to a woman he had met on one of his trips. He told me he felt like a failure. I asked him what made him feel that way and he replied that he was thirty-five years old and he couldn’t afford to fly to Wales to see his dad. We all know how much skill it takes to successfully navigate those big rigs through the Canyon, including the high water years of ’83-’85. And yet he had concluded that he was a failure because of the lack of money.
This was indeed a mid-life crisis, or as Carl Jung would describe it, a mid-life transition. Not only was he experiencing the angst of leaving the Canyon that had been his home for fifteen years, he was also dealing with finding another career as well as going from single to married.
As a life coach I focus primarily on the process of helping people travel from where they is to where they want to be, and I use a model to help people determine the strategies they will use. There are three stages to any transition (transitions are created when change happens, either because it’s been imposed on us, or because we choose it voluntarily). The stages are: Ending, Neutral Zone, and New Beginning. Another way of looking at the stages is this: The caterpillar has to end its life to step into the chrysalis where the metamorphosis occurs that leads to the emergence of the butterfly.
As river guides, we all learn rather quickly that ours is a relatively short-lived career. For most of us, by the time we reach mid-to-late thirties, one, two, or three things are happening: Our bodies are screaming at us; our relationships are screaming at us; our bank accounts are screaming at us; or all three. Given this reality, it makes sense to prepare for all three possibilities early on. Or, to start preparing now.
Regarding our bodies, we only have one in this life. So it makes sense for us to take great care by employing proper body mechanics (for oar and motor guides), like safe lifting techniques, stretching, maintaining strong core muscles. If you’re an oar guide, learning how to row so you don’t put undue strain on your lower back; and if you’re a paddle boat guide, taking care of your shoulders, wrists, and back. Also, since disease doesn’t show up in the body until its well under way, start now by paying attention to what you put in your body.
Regarding our bank accounts, there are plenty of examples of guides who have managed to save and invest over the years in anticipation of making a transition. The younger you are, the more beneficial compound interest will be for you. Start putting aside money now – even a little bit each month will pay dividends in the long run.
This brings me to the subject of career transitions. Some of us will choose to go from full time to no time, others from full time to part time, and still others from part time to no time. How you choose to do this is clearly up to you. But unlike my friend above, I urge you to begin now to plan for your transition. As river guides we are in a unique position. We meet people from all over the world and all walks of life. If you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up, then start now by taking advantage of the rich resources that your passengers offer. Be curious about them and their work. Ask them the questions you might ask a job interviewer – yes you can interview them. Find out what they do, what potential there is in their field, and what they like and don’t like about their work. If you find their field interesting to you, network with them; you might develop an ongoing personal relationship with them. If it makes sense, try asking them to mentor you as you explore a new career. The relationships we develop with our passengers are both intimate and personal. Some will want to help you. All you have to do is ask.
Another resource that is available to you in making a conscious transition, are your fellow river guides. Many have already taken, these steps. There are plenty of examples out there. People like Bruce and Nancy Helin of Professional River Outfitters (PRO). Scotty Davis and Rachel Schmidt of Ceiba are also growing a successful rafting equipment rental business. All four have found a niche renting river gear to private trippers and science folks and it has allowed them to remain connected to the Canyon. Several guides, like Brad Dimock and Christa Sadler have found a career as authors, Brian Dierker in a variety of fields, Fritz in science, Gary Casey and Nancy Nelson in law, Peggy Bartlett and Tom Wise in education, Justin Soloman and Gibney Siemion in rolfing, and Diana Snook (Snooky) in chiropractic, to name a few.
Also, the Whale Foundation offers career counseling. Take advantage of it.
When I coach people who are in transition, I suggest they create what I call an “Ending Ceremony.” I define Ceremony as ritual with heart. The purpose of the ceremony is two-fold: First, to celebrate what has brought you to this place of transition; and Second, to declare an Ending of “The Way You Have Been.” It’s incredibly challenging to leave (or reduce) our job as river guides in the Grand Canyon. To make the transition both powerful and effective, declaring a conscious ending to the way you have been is essential. This might include attitudes, beliefs, and judgments about you as a river guide that will not serve you in your new beginning. If possible, find at least one other person you trust who can witness your ceremony, and then support you in your new beginning. You don’t have to be familiar with ceremony to do this. All you need is the willingness. Remember, if you want to go where you’ve never been before, then you have to go where you’ve never been before.
Finally, please keep this in mind as you develop your own conscious transition strategy. You have to do “it” yourself, but you don’t have to do “it” alone. One of my recent passengers, on the last night, said to the crew, “you guides are the very best that America has to offer.” What a powerful statement. We are in the service industry, and on the whole, we provide the most outrageous customer service around. Some of those who have been touched by us will be more than happy to support us as we develop our own life plan. And whatever you do, just like your passengers on your trips, enjoy the journey and the adventure.
Charly Heavenrich has been privileged to work in the Canyon for thirty-six years. In addition to working for Canyon Explorations and Expeditions, he is also a speaker, life coach, author and photographer. He lives in Boulder, Colorado.
Marriage, at best, is 50% successful as an institution, and many of those 50% are less than satisfied according to conventional wisdom. Why is that? Well, an easy answer is many people get married for the wrong reasons, notably to get out of the house, to be taken care of, to alleviate boredom, because the sex was so good, to leave an abusive experience, etc. Certainly those reasons don’t bode well for the longevity of any marriage, once the bloom is off the rose. Having said that, there is a way in which we can consciously measure the likelihood that any committed relationship will have longevity.
There are five aspects to being human – physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and sexual. Why do I separate sexual from physical? I’m so glad you asked. Primarily because, in our society sexual is buried in the physical so as to avoid talking about, and exploring it. But that’s another story. According to the shaman with whom I studied, we “resonate” energetically with others in all five of those aspects. And energetically we are either in “cohesion” – energetically compatible, “adhesion” – there’s both friction and attraction, or “repulsion” – the opposite of attraction. It’s pretty easy to measure the physical and the sexual aspects, since they are, well, completely out there. It’s a lot more challenging to measure the other three – emotional, mental, and spiritual. And here’s where the rubber meets the road, so to speak.
To guarantee the possibility for a stable, long term, intimate relationship, we need to be in the same ballpark with these latter three aspects. Regrettably, they almost always take a back seat to the physical and sexual, that initial chemistry that makes sex so good, until it isn’t. So do we have to be in cohesion in all five aspects? Well, that would be ideal. But, no, we don’t. What we do need is the conscious awareness about those aspects that are not in cohesion, and a clear intention to work, together and individually, to improve those behaviors and attitudes that can cause friction.
So, we can be in cohesion mentally and spiritually, in adhesion physically and sexually, and in repulsion emotionally, or any combination. Have you ever thought about your relationships in this way? Doubtful, except as you probably have looked back on a “failed” relationship to see what probably was obvious to your closest friends. This doesn’t mean your relationship can’t succeed. It almost certainly means you need to make a conscious determination as to the kind of relationship – close friendship, casual friendship, friends with benefits, intimate relationship, long term committed relationship, professional relatioship.
How does this show up at work? According to Carl Jung, we expect people to be like us; and when they are not, we can attribute negative conscious intent to their behavior. This often leads to judgment and conflict, which has negative consequences amongst team members, and between managers and subordinates. Our differences can result in poor working relationships, which will have a negative impact on morale and the bottom line; or we can choose to view them as opportunities for more effective and efficient teamwork, which will improve our personal and professional lives, as well as the bottom line.
Relationships, no matter the setting, require attention and constant positive nurturing if our humanness is to be at its best.
Sometimes I feel that my life is a series of trapeze swings. I'm either hanging on to a trapeze bar swinging along, or for a few moments in my life I'm hurtling across space in between trapeze bars.
Most of the time, I spend my life hanging on for dear life to my trapeze-bar-of-the- moment. It carries me along at a certain steady rate of swing and I have the feeling that I'm in control of my life. I know most of the right questions and even some of the right answers. But once in a while, as I'm merrily (or not-so-merrily) swinging along, I look out ahead of me into the distance and what do I see? I see another trapeze bar swinging towards me. It's empty and I know, in that place in me that knows, that this "new trapeze bar" has my name on it. It is my next step, my growth, my aliveness coming to get me. In my heart-of-hearts I know that for me to grow, I must release my grip on the present, well-known bar to move to the next one.
Each time it happens to me, I hope (no pray) that I won't have to grab the new one. But in my knowing place, I know that I must totally release my grasp on my old bar and for some moment in time I must hurtle across space before I can grab onto the new bar. Each time I am filled with terror. It doesn't matter that in all my previous hurtles across the void of knowing, I have always made it. Each time I am afraid that I will miss, that I will be crushed on unseen rocks in the bottomless chasm between the bars. But I do it anyway.
Perhaps this is the essence of what the mystics call the faith experience. No guarantees, no net, no insurance policy, but you do it anyway because somehow to keep hanging on to that old bar is no longer on the list of alternatives.
And so for an eternity that can last a microsecond or a thousand lifetimes, I soar across the dark void of "the past is gone, the future is not yet here." It is called transition. I have come to believe that this is the only place that real change occurs. I mean REAL change, not the pseudo-change that only lasts until the next time my old buttons get punched.
I have noticed that, in our culture, this transition zone is looked upon as a "nothing", a no-place between places. Sure, the old trapeze-bar was real, and that new one coming towards me, I hope that's real too. But the void between? That's just a scary, confusing, disorienting "nowhere" that must be gotten through as fast and as unconsciously as possible. What a waste! I have a sneaking suspicion that the transition zone is the only real thing, and the bars are illusions we dream up to avoid the void, where the real change, the real growth occurs for us.
Whether or not my hunch is true, it remains that the transition zones in our lives are incredibly rich places. They should be honored, even savored. Yes, with all the pain and fear and feelings of being out-of-control that can (but not necessarily) accompany transitions, they are still the most alive, most growth-filled, passionate, expansive moments in our lives.
And so transformation of fear may have nothing to do with making fear go away but rather with giving ourselves permission to "hang-out" in the transition between trapeze bars. Transforming our need to grab that new bar is allowing ourselves to dwell in the only place where change really happens. It can be terrifying. It can also be enlightening in the true sense of the word. Hurtling through the void, we just may learn how to fly.
Danaan Perry – From “Warriors of the Heart”
In the early 90s I was on a private trip where several of the participants were change agents, former Outward Bound instructors and organizational consultants. All, including me, were very experienced in group work, especially involving change and transition. At Pipe Creek, three “significant others” of men remaining on the trip hiked out and were replaced by three “strangers” who were unfamiliar with most of the group. For some reason there was no acknowledgement of the significance of the three who were leaving the trip, and nothing was done to “consciously” bring the three new people into the group. As a result, the new folks spent the rest of the trip on the outside looking in. It was a powerful message about the crucial importance of consciously saying goodbye to those leaving, and consciously integrating the new people into the group.
It is essential on all our interchange trips to acknowledge those leaving, which we often, but not always, do on the night before the interchange. And it is equally valuable to find the time to integrate the new folks into the group as early in the Lower end as possible. For me, the best time is the morning after the interchange. It is often a more casual morning and getting out of camp early is not necessary. Each trip, each TL, and each crew, will be different. There is no “right way” to accomplish this. What’s important is to take the time for in depth introductions. Hopefully, the continuing passengers have been proactive about helping the new folks get up to speed at Pipe Creek and the first night’s camp. One possible suggestion is to form a circle after the rafts have been loaded and do the same kind of introduction as done on Day One of the trip. To help the new passengers get up to speed, one suggestion would be to ask the continuing passengers and guides to share one or two experiences during the Upper portion to provide some insight into what has transpired on the trip. This will help the newcomers feel more a part of the group.
There are many ways to honor those leaving and those entering. I’ve been on trips where this wasn’t done, and they worked out just fine (it is the Canyon after all). Even so, it’s my belief that taking an extra hour or so the night before the interchange, and on that first morning, will result in a more connected tribe while making everyone feel more present and more engaged.
On a research trip in the Grand Canyon in 1982, there were several well-known scientists and one who was unknown. His name was John, and he was a grad student in geology from a college back East. Until this trip, John had never been West of the Allegheny Mountains; and now, here he was, in this living geologic museum, the Grand Canyon. And he was loving it. Now he was surrounded by and could touch the very rocks he had only read about and seen in pictures. He was in heaven . . ., until we arrived at Hance Rapid. Located at mile 77 on the Colorado River, Hance is the first of six major rapids in the Canyon.
We pulled over above the rapid, tied up our rafts, and walked downstream and up on a sand dune to “scout” the rapid, to determine the safest path. John followed, but stopped halfway up and sat on a boulder. On the way down I approached John, and noticed that he was pale. Pale is not normal in the desert. John was scared. He had just spent the last fifteen minutes listening to the freight train sound of the rapid, looking at nothing but white water and rocks, convinced he was going to die. I know I had to find a way to shift his fear.
“John, you’re a scientist and you’re good at details, right?” “Yeah, I guess so,” he replied. “How would you like to help me get through this rapid safely?” I asked. “Well, yes; but how?” I then told him this was the most technical rapid in the Canyon with lots of markers and said I would show him the run and he could help keep me on track. Even though he couldn’t imagine how he would be helpful, he was willing. I described the run to him and he asked me to repeat it.
By the time we arrived back at the raft, John’s color had returned to his face. As we shoved off, he was completely focused on the entry. During the run, he was very vocal and very animated, shouting directions throughout.
“We often don’t realize what we can do, until we’re faced with what we believe we can’t do.”
Humans tend to resist Change. Why is that?
In order to deal effectively with the Challenges of Change, it’s often helpful to begin with an understanding and appreciation for why we tend to Resist Change. As a raft guide in the Grand Canyon, I’ve learned a lot from the natural world metaphors and stories of people overcoming their resistance to change. Rapids are a great metaphor for just that. There are several examples from the rapids to help us gain insight to this resistance.
First, rapids are formed when debris from a rock fall or a flash flood from a side canyon gets imposed on the river system. As a result, the width of the river is reduced. The laws of physics require that a volume that has to flow through a narrower space must speed up. The additional speed and added debris create what we call a rapid. When Change is Imposed on us, there can be a natural resistance to something we haven’t asked for.
Even change that we choose can be messy and uncomfortable. A rapid can look and feel threatening. On the river that threat is to our physical safety. In life, the Rapids of Change can feel threatening to our way of life, our sense of safety and security.
In addition to the above, if you don’t know how to “read the river”, a rapid can look and feel chaotic. No one wants to feel that his or her life is chaotic. However, we experience chaos when we are unwilling or unable to see beyond the apparent chaos to the pattern that exists. If you know how to “read the river”, ie, read the situation that seems chaotic, you can also develop strategies to find a safe and enjoyable (really!) way through the rapid.
Finally, the river just upstream of a major rapid is usually very calm. As a result, the reflections on the river are like being in an art museum. Regrettably, no one is appreciating the art around them at that moment, because the spitting white water and sound of the freight train just downstream are conjuring images of mayhem. Fear is what is present.
The irony? Once we’ve successfully navigated the rapid, people often want to go back and run it again. One of my passengers, who experienced great fear above his first major rapid, said later he had gone from “the brink of death to sheer exhilaration in thirty seconds.”
In the next blog, we’ll take a look at why he had that shift, and what needs to be present to overcome our resistance to change.
Ever heard that cliché? Of course you have. Change is part of the natural order on planet Earth; and yet, it seems we humans have not figured out how to deal effectively with it, even when we dearly desire to make some substantial changes, in our personal or professional life. Have you ever wanted to have a better job, stop eating so much sugar, improve your personal relationship, or feel better about yourself? All of us have, in one or more of these and other areas of living. Ashleigh Brilliant, the one window cartoonist, says “The difference between life and television is, with life it’s more difficult to change the channels.” Is that so; and if so, why is that?”
The purpose of this and future blogs will be to shed some light on the darkness that is the challenge of change, and to offer insight and awareness to help you take charge in the rapids of change.
Change is accelerating as it invades every area of our lives. We are living through one of the greatest financial challenges in most of our lives. Millions have lost their homes, and their sense of certainty and security, through foreclosures, the loss of our jobs, and the extreme erosion of our savings. The prospect that our kids will enjoy a better future is in doubt. The Earth is heating up, drought is more prevalent and causing far greater financial and personal burdens, “Super Storm Sandy” has been a harbinger of what we can expect more often.
As W Mitchell, world class speaker and author tells us, “It’s not what happens to us; it’s what we do about it.” So, how do we deal effectively with the challenge of change? I’m so glad you asked. First, I believe we need to take a look at some of the reasons why change is so challenging. In my next blog I will introduce a metaphor from my work as a raft guide in the Grand Canyon to help you understand and appreciate why we tend to resist change. In future blogs, I will introduce a simple formula that will enlighten you on what needs to be present to overcome that resistance, and a model to help you manage your transition rather than feel managed by it.
Please keep this in mind: The subconscious mind can’t take a joke; if you think you can’t, you’re probably right. What needs to change in your life?