Several summers ago, a few friends and I went on a river float trip. The guide explained to us there are different ratings on raft trips according to the class rates of the river. A class VI river, for example, will have extreme rapids and is recommended only for the experts. Most raft tour trips don’t even attempt rivers at this level. The classes work themselves down until you get to a class I, which is a nice, gentle floating trip.
But very few rivers are all one class or the other. Often, just as you’re floating along feeling peaceful, the guide will give you a heads up that the boat is approaching a few rapids. You might be required to help steer the boat through them, paddling at certain points or just on one side or the other of the raft. It isn’t as relaxing, but boy is it exciting!
Being in a raft is an experience of letting go. The river’s flow and momentum carries the boat. Once you’re in the raft, there’s no stopping the current. There are times of peace, and there are times of risk and excitement. But ultimately, if you’re with an experienced guide, you can rest easy, follow instructions and enjoy the ride.
I am finding that my writing life is a little bit like a raft trip. Too often, I am hesitant to get in the boat and let the current carry me. Instead, I sit on the bank, admire the view, maybe even dip my feet into the cool, refreshing waters, but I don’t actually experience it. As long as I’m on the bank, I’m in control.
But if I believed there was a purpose and calling to my writing, I might be willing to get into the boat. It’s risky. It may mean writing some things that are challenging or going over the rapids of a new assignment or new writing style. It may mean letting a vision carry me without knowing the final destination or even how I’m going to get there. In short, it might be scary.
I blame a few unpredictable and uncontrollable situations in my life, but I have had to let go of a lot recently: Let go of the outcomes and the path I’m on, let go of trying to steer life and my writing in a specific direction. Let go, until I have no choice but to allow the boat carry me. But you know what? As I quit trying to control my writing process, calling and inspirations, new ideas and adventures, some of them still unformed and unrecognizable, are bubbling up inside me. I am beginning to sense that there is a deeper calling and purpose for what I’m doing.
Does this all sound vague? It does to me sometimes. Me: the list-maker and date-keeper. Me: the marketing strategist and career seeker. But it’s forcing me to keep my eyes, ears and heart open to the signs and possibilities of where I might be headed, or at least the next step I should take. I’ve started looking for, what Julia Cameron calls “synchronicity”—the universe (or God) furthering and expanding our efforts as if, almost, in “coincidence”.
Maybe the confluence of all these events is coincidental and brought together by my need to see a connection. But, in my heart, I truly believe that in my letting go, in allowing myself to get in the boat and not judge or control the outcome, God is responding to my openness, curiosity, requests and needs.
And let me tell you, I’m excited again about my writing. I know there are rapids coming up, but they don’t frighten me.
Have you ever been at a time in your writing career where you felt there was a great force working with your visions?Do you sometimes feel like you’re standing on the bank, watching, waiting, but afraid to really let go?
If so, what’s keeping you there?