Happy New Year to you all! I’m still amazed at how quickly 2016 flew by but I am excited about the new beginnings 2017 brings with it.
We just got back from a camping trip in Paarl. As a family, we try and camp at the end of every year. It really is a great getaway from the hustle and the bustle of the city life and has proven over the years to be one of the better places to be at to ring in the New Year. You don’t have to drive anywhere, you can have one too many without worry and you celebrate the start of a brand new year under the stars, with the wind whistling through the trees and the river flowing steadily nearby. Heaven!
When I saw the Daily Prompt was Resilience, the Berg River I had frequented so often over the last few days came to mind.
The Oxford Dictionary defines the word Resilience as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness”. I cannot think of a better example of resilience than that of a river!
On the face of it, a river is just a steady flow of water. But when you take a closer look, you will realise that it plays many roles in life. It provides much needed refreshment for the animals that live nearby. It provides a home for fish and frogs and plants who live in it – giving nourishment and a safe place to grow. It also washes away anything that doesn’t belong in it. In doing so it cleanses itself and its surroundings. And it allows us humans to have fun or find solace in it.
Almost every day during our trip, I saw a mother duck with her three ducklings, either walking alongside the river while eating or swimming across to the other side or quenching their thirst in the 38 degree heat we experienced. They depended on the river for so many of their needs to be met. To me it was just a river, but without it, this family couldn’t survive. However, the river itself faces many of its own challenges to survive…
It didn’t matter what time I went down to the river, it was always flowing. If you think about it, the water in the river never touches the same place twice, ever. It is always covering new ground, having to adapt to new surroundings and embrace the changes to its environment that its life inherently brings.
Rivers have an unforced, natural, and calm way about them. It just flows. It knows what its purpose is and does it effortlessly and without strife or strain. It doesn’t fight against it. Unless the river dries up, it never stops flowing. That’s its job and it’s one that it has embraced gracefully.
During our trip, I spent so many hours in the river. The heat was at times unbearable and the only
relief I could find was submerging myself in the water. But there were also times when I went to the river for some peace and quiet. I found solace there when the company back at our campsite was getting a little too much for me. I had a doughnut shaped floater (we called it Dunkin Donut, lol) and just sat for hours on end in the water. When I got in with the floater, the water dispersed as I placed pressure on it. But the river didn’t stop flowing because there was pressure placed on it that wasn’t there before. It still continued to flow. There were also rocks in the river and trees along the river bank. Obstacles, strategically placed in it’s path. Again, the river didn’t stop flowing because of them. It found a way around the rocks and sometimes depending if the water level was above it, it flowed right over it.
There were many moments when I just sat on the doughnut, my backside submerged in the water and just closed my eyes. I can still feel the heat of the sun on my arms and legs and the cooling effect of the water on my body that brought much needed relief from the heat. When I had opened my eyes, without me even realising, I had drifted so far down stream. Sometimes, you just need to close your eyes and let go. You may be pleasantly surprised where you end up.
On some occasions, I would get up and walk back to where our towels were placed on the river bank. Again, causing an obstacle in the river’s path. Other times, I hand-paddled back to our spot. Again, causing an obstruction by pushing the water in the opposite direction of it’s natural flow. But never, in all these times, did the river stop flowing because of the challenges I presented to it. It still continued to flow, albeit a little slower and with a bit of a detour in its direction, but it still continued to flow. It found a work around to still do what it needed to do.
There were other campers in the river as well. Some families had these huge rubber canoes that allowed all of them to be on the water at the same time. These canoes no doubt placed a substantial amount of pressure on the water considering the amount of people in the boat. Again, the river continued to flow and carried the heavy boat downstream. The river didn’t buckle under the pressure. It just carried the load along with it for as long as it had to. It adapted.
Rivers are resilient – they have the ability to recover quickly from difficulties – they are tough.
God uses nature to teach us some valuable lessons – if we take the time to recognise it. Just like rivers, life will always throw curve balls your way. There will always be obstacles and challenges that you will encounter along your journey. Be it illness, financial difficulties, challenges at work or tragedy. These obstacles, just like the ones that the river faces daily, are not meant to stop you from doing what you are meant to do. Their purpose is to build your resilience. Like the river, you must adapt to the changes life brings you and other times you must find ways to flow it, even with huge pressures upon you.
With each obstacle that you overcome, with each experience, you learn valuable lessons. And then the next time you are faced with similar circumstances, you are a little stronger and can tackle it with life’s best teacher by your side – experience. You know what worked and what didn’t.
I like to look at obstacles as tools in my toolbox of life. Every time I overcome an obstacle or challenge, I get to add a courage, confidence, wisdom, knowledge, experience, self-esteem, self-love, to name a few, to my toolbox. So, when life decides to throw me a curve ball, I reach into my toolbox and take out what I need to see it through. The challenge ahead no longer seems as daunting as before because you now have resources available to you to help.
I know it’s not an easy thing to accept, but challenges really do build character. Challenges builds Resilience. Every time you are knocked down but decide to get up, you build your resilience. You add to your toolbox.
I saw my fair share of obstacles in 2016, some of them I overcame and some of them I carry through into 2017, yet to be overcome. The ones I overcame taught me lessons I know I had to learn. The ones yet to be overcome, will too teach me what I still need to learn.But I can say will all honesty, I am stronger than I was before. I’m a little wiser. I’m a little more self-confident. I have a little more experience. I am a little more resilient!
As the year kicks off, I would like to remind you that no matter what 2017 brings, we have everything you need to face it and overcome it right there in our toolbox! Don’t forget to look back at 2016, at the challenges you wish to forget and see what you added to your toolbox because of it. See how truly resilient you are!
” Man never made any material as resilient as the human spirit.” – Ben Williams