Humans lives flow like rivers, but human egos mark life by what goes on on the shoreline. Unfortunately, that thought-based action takes us out of our sense of flow and it tricks us into judging our circumstances instead.
Of course, this consideration is just observation. It will not change the fact that the shoreline will depend on where previous generations flowed, and our direction will depend on where we start our journey in both time and space.
All of this means we often have little control over our circumstances, whether they are favourable or not. Praise or blame, judging ourselves by the shoreline makes little sense.
Even though every river represents a viable route to reach the ocean of oneness that we all reach at the end of life, it is not uncommon for people to spend their lives resisting the direction of their own flow, all in their vain attempts to reach someone else’s shore.
That river-metaphor illustrates how the steady flow of our soul can appear to be independent of our daily experiences via the shoreline, even though each depends on the other.
While that river-shoreline metaphor is useful for certain purposes, if we are trying to illustrate living in the moment, where all of our opportunities for change really are, we may be better to think of our flow as being more like that in our own beating hearts.
Rather than a subject-object relationship of a moving flow relative to static shoreline, we are better to think of the contents of our hearts as the content of our souls. What’s in our hearts is who we are being.
The question isn’t about the surrounding veins (or ‘shoreline’), our question shifts to being about; what we are pumping into our future? The beats help us divide what was a flowing river into individual moments –the individual beats in the storylines of our lives.
We can be surrounded by wealth and fame. We can be wealthy and powerful. But if the contents or our hearts is dark or troubled, that bejewelled shoreline will make little difference.
By turning that flow into beats, we can recognize how each moment represents an opportunity to be something, to be someone new in each moment. It demonstrates our ability to shift our thinking, and therefore the content of our hearts.
This all means the question is not: is our shoreline more attractive or appealing than others? –as though life is some competition. The real question is; what feelings have we chosen to occupy our hearts with in this present moment?
Rather than base how we feel on the outcomes on our shoreline (which many other people also influence), we must become more interested in what are we pumping into our lives in each moment. And we have near total control over that.
Each heartbeat represents an opportunity. In each new beat, we can repeat the same painful, victim-based thinking that leads to suffering. Or, we can turn we our attention away from suffering, and instead we can beat with a full and grateful heart.
There are millions of stimuli presented to us every day. In any given moment we could be thinking about anything we might read about in Wikipedia’s many pages. Or, we could think about any moment in our lives, past or present; from one of unfortunate fate, to ones of remarkable good fortune. The choice is always ours.
But no matter what thoughts we think, we must remain mindful to avoid seeing life as being a set of external results, represented by a changing shoreline. We are not the shore, we are the river.
What flows back into the universe at the end of our lives has little to do with the shoreline our water flowed through, and much more about how the water feels as it flows. So let’s ignore the shoreline and its passing sights. And let us pay more attention to the beating of our own hearts instead.
We are not our outcomes, we are how we reached them. After all, at the end of life we all realize, since it all just goes away anyway, it is far less important to succeed in getting somewhere, than it is to be healthy in getting there.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.