Can we talk about navigating our way through life? I live on the Tennessee River and I am completely smitten with barges. Seeing a new barge cruise by never gets old. I have often joked that in my next life I am coming back as a barge captain. I mean who wouldn’t want to casually float down the river and take in breathtaking scenery? While it may look serene and majestic, I assure you that it is not. The responsibility for the crew, the safety of the crew, and the safety of the cargo onboard is always of foremost importance. Barge captains have to constantly be aware of weather-related events, water conditions, wind conditions, other vessels, and not to mention the maintenance involved on their own boat. I’m sure that you are wondering where I am going with this story at this point. So let me shift gears.
Where I’m located there is a sharp bend in the river just beyond me. For months I have watched as the barges navigate that turn. Did you know that a tugboat is usually pushing a minimum of 4-6 barges? At times the ones I see are tied up 3 wide. It takes about a half mile for it to come to a stop. Somewhere in front of my house they really start to slow down and come to a complete stop at the bend in the river. And if you have ever seen a map of the river, it curves like a snake. So, imagine repeating this pattern for hundreds of miles. Why do they do this? Why do they stop and drift? Because every one of those barges and the boat itself has to come into alignment to make that turn safely. Think about that. Slowing down and thinking through your actions for a safer outcome. We can correlate this to navigating life right? Not to be too cheesy but think about the terms we use every day. Sharp curve ahead. Drive slowly, children at play. A bump in the road. Please use caution when preceding. Life throwing you curveballs. You get my point.
How does this relate to navigating life? We need to be more like a barge captain. Thinking ahead. Using caution. Thinking about how our decisions drive outcomes. Learning to surrender and letting go of things and people we can’t control is a great way to start. But another way is to just slow down, or “slow your row.” You will never convince me that people who are hurting or running from their feelings are not blasting their way through life. The next party, the next event, the next social gathering. Busy, busy, busy. Filling their life with activity to numb themselves from whatever feelings they are suppressing. Or creating an illusion that they are full of life and living it to the fullest and they are trying so hard to look the part so others will think they are “okay’.
If only we could just normalize slowing down and meeting ourselves in the present. Maybe just maybe, we could be more like that barge who is just trying to keep everything in alignment. And finding security and peace in knowing that we are just trying our best.