Your life jacket knows which way is up…

I know I’ve written about this before – it’s in one of my books, though I can’t remember which at the moment.  So please forgive me if I’m boring you.

About twenty years ago, I was going canoeing on the Zambezi River.  It was a fairly clear and peaceful stretch, but there were still crocodiles on the bank and hippos in the water.  Could be a bit interesting… A beautiful young Zambian man gave us safety briefing.  I have never forgotten what he said, or just how important it was that day and every day since. This is what he said… 

‘If there are hippos around, just bang on the side of your canoe and they’ll go away. If there are crocodiles, keep your eye on them, give them a wide berth, but just leave them alone. If you fall out of the boat, relax. Don’t struggle. Let the river take you. Your life jacket knows which way is up.’ I’ve thought about the wisdom of this so many times since then – and again this week.  It’s such a brilliant piece of advice for canoeing on the Zambezi but also for life in general.  We are going where we are going on the river of life.  If we just get ourselves out of the way, we’ll end up where we need to be. Everything is perfectly choreographed.  We don’t have to understand it, believe it even.  But if we can nevertheless try to trust it and just go with the flow wherever it seems to take us rather than struggling, resisting, fighting ourselves and life in general and becoming exhausted in the process, we will learn things, go places and have opportunities we couldn’t have imagined.  We’ll be taken to places within ourselves – and in the world – that we weren’t aware of.  We will learn in unique ways all we need to learn.  We will glide through the landscape of life, just as our soul agreed we would, and we will survive because our soul knows the way and will be guided, if we just get our human resistance out of the way.

And if there are bullies around you, well, make your voice heard. Just don’t stand for it.  Bang on your canoe and usually they’ll back away. If there are those who seem out to get you, just like the crocodiles in the water, be alert, keep your eye on them, but then leave them alone. And if you fall of the track, just relax… Your soul knows where you’re going. It knows which way is up. So, just get back on your feet and let it guide you home.

Happy canoeing!

Much love


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