The Stream

A Meditation

I want to you to picture, in your mind’s eye, a perfect stream. The stream flows over rocks and fallen trees… through steep canyons and around boulders. At some points, the stream widens into pools, until it rises above a certain level, then it cascades gently over ledges into waterfalls. Take a moment to picture this perfect stream, splashing poetically, inevitably, toward the ocean.

The stream keeps moving without expending effort to move. It does not stop moving. It does not understand the concept of “stop.” Its very motion defines its existence as a stream, and vice versa. Since it is a stream, it moves without effort. Because it moves, it is a stream. It’s very “being” is, therefore, indistinguishable from its motion. It cannot have motion without being, and it cannot have “being” without motion.

Now I want you to imagine an imperfect stream. Unlike the “perfect” stream you imagined a moment ago, this stream is plagued by problems. It starts with a few twigs that have fallen into the rushing water, but soon there are entire branches and even logs that jam together so tightly that the water seems to strain to get around them. To make matters worse, an avalanche has added tons of rocks and even huge boulders to the streambed, forcing it to bubble up and around in new directions. Worse yet, the stream’s new path is not an easy one. It now must flow around steep stone canyons as well. Its path to the sea becomes a convoluted one that takes the stream miles out of its way….

Holding that picture in your mind’s eye – the picture of the “imperfect stream,” I want you to ask yourself in what ways it differs from the first image – the image of the “perfect” stream. Do not both streams flow over rocks and fallen trees? Do not both streams flow through steep canyons and around boulders? Do not both streams widen at points into pools and cascade over ledges into waterfalls?

In fact, you just pictured the same stream twice. There is no difference… and that’s why there is no such thing as an “imperfect” stream, because it is the stream’s “imperfections” that make it perfect. Without these “imperfections,” the stream would be a featureless concrete shaft from the mountain to the sea, and such a “stream” would hardly be worth visiting. Without these “features,” such as boulders and canyons and waterfalls, the stream’s “being” – its “life” wouldn’t be worth living.

Which is much like our lives. Let’s begin with the statement that there is no such thing as an “imperfect” life – because a life unadorned with “features” or events we may consider “imperfections” would hardly be a life worth living. To protect our lives from imperfections, we’d have to be raised in a concrete protective room and have our meals fed to us through a slot – and that sounds more like a prison than a perfect life.

Exactly like the stream, we are made perfect not by an absence of “problems,” but by an abundance of them. And exactly like the stream, we can overcome these problems effortlessly. Our journey through life is exactly as inevitable as the stream flowing toward the sea, if we go with the flow of the water. The natural flow of the water always finds its way around the boulders and through the canyons. Too many people keep trying to swim back upstream, to where the stream flowed before the avalanche. These people suffer from the mistaken perception that their current stream is somehow imperfect – that they have to get back to where the stream used to flow. But there is no imperfect stream.

This is what it means to “let go.” It doesn’t mean you stop moving – far from it! It simply means you begin to allow yourself to see the perfection that is your life, and start enjoying the adventure of all the features that come your way. Some will flavor your experience, while others will change your entire direction, and that’s ok. The point is that we keep moving, because – like the stream – we aren’t really alive unless we are in motion. Hang on tight, and take time to enjoy the view. It’s a wild ride!

Troy Carlyle