Two Contrasting Rivers Meet

There is an amazing sight you see when you drive through Lytton, BC at the point where the muddy Fraser River meets the clean Thompson River.  When this happens it is called “confluence” which means “a flowing together”. 

The muddy Fraser River meets the clean Thompson River

Let’s use this picture to describe two contrasting parts of life that often touch – the muddy and difficult parts with the clean and bright parts of life.  One moment you are up to your neck in sadness, loss, disappointment, pain and frustration while at another moment you’re witnessing a brilliant sunset, enjoying the company of close friends, celebrating a birthday or making a memory with your kids. 

Here’s the challenge in life. The muddy “losses” have a way of overtaking everything clean and bright in our lives – just like the muddy Fraser River eventually overtakes the clean Thompson! Our goal is not to succumb to the mud and be in a perpetual state of sadness and loss and frustration but to learn to hold both at the same time.

People will call me to see how I’m doing (1 ½ years into this seemingly never ending recovery process) and will ask for an update.  If it’s been a muddy day or week, I’ll tell them but include what I’m thankful for and what I`m hoping for. When I ask them how they are doing, they tell me but sometimes if they are about to leave on a trip or go and do something fun, guilt is often what they feel. 

What’s going on?  

  • Guilt due to the mud I`m living with while they enjoy a pleasurable experience
  • False guilt, because there’s nothing wrong with what they are about to do!  
  • The inability to hold mud and clear water at the same time and be OK with both.

The goal:

  • To fully embrace SEPARATELY the moments of fun and pleasure when they are your reality and to fully embrace the experience of loss, sadness and pain when it is present.

Give a shout out for:

  • “Be fully present and alive where you are!”
  • “Live in the moment of your joy”
  • “Live in the moment of your sorrow”
  • “Weep with those who weep”
  • “Laugh with those who laugh”
  • “Don’t force yourself to experience both weeping and laughter at the same time”
  • “Let go of false guilt for enjoying the good gifts of life”
  • “Be fully present with empathy and love for those who suffer”
  • “When overcome with sadness, lean into it and walk through it”
  • “Don’t try to get out of anything prematurely”

Two streams but one night…

The other night I was dreading the thought of going to bed knowing full well my leg would start complaining with pain when I lay down. Instead of fighting the dread, I had a random thought to search YouTube for some “clean comedy!”  So there I was laughing my head off and swimming in the clear river of clean comedy! I remember having a flash of insight when I said to myself “This is a great moment!”   I was fully present with my laughter (which is good medicine) – then I shut off my phone and proceeded to toss and turn and find creative ways to manage my pain and make it through yet another restless night.

What’s been your experience with moving back and forth between the mud of life and the clear water?

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About Cam Taylor

I'm help people live inspired, focused and tenacious lives. I work as a coach, facilitator, author, and speaker.
This entry was posted in Adversity, Emotions, grieving, Growth, Hope, Laughter, Paradox, Perspective, self-awareness, suffering and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Two Contrasting Rivers Meet

  1. Shirlene Henning. says:

    Good ole’ “youtube”, a great idea to tune in and see what they have to make us ‘feel’ better with laughter. Good medicine for us. All your blogs are so helpful to me – giving an encouraging slant on situations. Thankyou Cam.

  2. Cheryl Berto says:

    A worthy analogy and a great question!! For me, it’s not so much moving between the clear and muddy water, but becoming acclimatized to the diluted mud that now flows in a much wider stream. I have found that the on going and persistent pain that I am in (not physical) has given me greater depth as a person and has totally expanded my ability to care for the hurting and broken. I am no longer in a hurry to fix anyone’s pain, but in my increased tolerance for it, I can sit with them in it, and be present with them, feeling no pressure to fix it. I now know that it is a journey more than a problem that needs a solution applied to it. (not that I wouldn’t love to get some of that for myself!) I have also become aware in my experience of the muddy but wide “Fraser”, that there is a depth of fellowship with the suffering that I did not know so well while in my suffering avoidant state of mind. And it has become clear to me that my life of affluence, and the affluent culture around me are huge barriers to my ability to live out the heart of Christ which is to care for the hurting and broken. My affluent life has made comfort and ease my idols, and so I have avoided pain, particularly the pain of other people which will always leak onto me when I have allowed myself to come close to them. So I’m in a bigger river now, muddy all the way through but there is an expanse in me that has freed me to minister with more of my heart and with more effectiveness! Thanks Cam for sharing your pain and struggles with us, for being authentic, and for not holding back on the struggle. In my opinion, it’s been good for us and for you.

    • Cam Taylor says:

      Thanks Cheryl for sharing your perspective on the river metaphor. That’s what I love about metaphors – they can mean different things to different people and be helpful tools for painting pictures & describing reality. You’ve shed more light on a subject that is a deep well of meaning!

      • Cheryl Berto says:

        “deep well of meaning”, that’s great (I’m giggling) there you go working another metaphorical angle. Well done!!!

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