When we went kayaking on Sunday, the Barren Fork River was down at least six inches from last summer when I was last there. I know because the algae covered log in the photo above was submerged last year, but was high and dry this year. (It wasn’t as pretty this time; so, I didn’t take a picture of it.) The result of this lowered water level was predictable – my butt dragged the bottom far more frequently. There were even places where I nearly had to get out and pull the kayak over the rocks. That was suspiciously like work disturbing my lazy float down the river.
As it happened, I was able to ooch my way off the snags. (For those of you who aren’t familiar, “ooch” is the technical term for that half jump, half leap motion one makes while seated. It’s primarily used when positioning one’s chair at the dining table. Go ahead. Look it up if you don’t believe me.) While I was oh-so-gracefully ooching my way off of a boulder (I’m sure it was that big), I began to think about the water level’s effect on my movement down the river and the parallels between the river and my life experience these past 18 or so months.
Last year, the water was high, submerging most of the rocks deeply enough that we were able to float right over them. There were plenty of bumps underneath me; but, there was enough water to cushion me from any effects. Likewise, 18 months ago, I was working at a job I enjoyed, making a wonderful salary and enjoying every minute of it. There were plenty of regular life challenges and even the enormous one of my son leaving for college; however, my spirit had enough depth to cushion me.
Then things changed. Without going into the gory details, my spirit nose-dived, or to hold the metaphor, it shaoled; so, I had to leave that job. Changing industries was easier said than done and I was unable to find a job for quite some time. My spirit shaoled further. I gained a little depth as I worked in the insurance industry; but, my failure in that endeavor took my spirit to an all-time low. The regular life challenges that were the mere pebbles I had ignored before became snags I could not navigate. I lost buoyancy. I got stuck.
It’s taken quite awhile and the help of quite a few people for me to ooch off those snags and get moving again. My spirit has deepened and is again providing me with the cushion I need to deal with life’s small challenges. I assure you that the challenges are still there, my renewed spirit is just letting me deal with them better.
There are many things that help keep my spirit full: writing, taking photographs, spending time with friends, hiking, kayaking, gardening among them. I have to remember to make time for these activities, for without them, my spirit just doesn’t have the depth to get me over the obstacles.
I have to mind the depth of my river.