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Life Lessons from the River

By Mark Susnow

Wouldn't it be great if there was a formula if followed would be the answer to all of your problems and concerns. We are all intrigued by books that promise us a better life. And many of us are looking for the secrets of the ages that promise us enlightenment.

I know that was my quest at one time in my life. In the seventies I had very few responsibilities and was a student of Transcendental Meditation. The pursuit of enlightenment was the carrot I was searching for. Today with a family, career and other responsibilities I no longer think about enlightenment. I do think about being a more fulfilled person and becoming fully engaged with life. It is an exciting journey that is full of surprises and mystery.

I never thought I would be embracing the internet as I do. It has enabled me to be in contact with people from all over the world. For the last five years I have had the privilege of being a guide for many fellow travelers along the river of life.

I know that I make frequent references to the river of life. When I was 12 years old my Uncle Sam took me on a week long river rafting trip sponsored by the Sierra Club on the Green River in Colorado. I remember it like it was yesterday. We flew from San Francisco to Boise and then caught a little six seater plane that flew over the mountains and landed in a town near our campsite. Already an adventure for a 12 year old we drove to the river. On the second day of the trip I was swimming along the side of the raft when I noticed the raft getting ahead of me and I heard the yells: "Get in the boat." But it was too late...As I swam toward the boat against the current I became tired. And then I heard the yells: "Stay in the center." I was propelled through the rapids right behind the boat. And as the water became calm I was able to relax for a second. And then I noticed that the boat was still ahead of me and the next series of rapids was approaching. My uncle extended an oar to me and I was able to grab it and be pulled onto the boat. My exciting adventure was over and I had a lot to talk about the rest of the trip.

"The river" has a current all its own that is constantly changing. As we learn to navigate and embrace these changes our life becomes more fulfilling and exciting. But if we resist theses changes that are going to occur anyway because that's the nature of rivers, we will struggle and when we struggle we usually don't make very good decisions.

Sometimes that struggle occurs when we are overwhelmed by all of the demands of our life. And at other times it occurs because our lives are hopelessly out of balance. Others experience struggle and despair because of all of the suffering in the world.

At some level we might feel that something is fundamentally missing. Whatever our life challenges are we want more from life than what we are currently experiencing.

Our quest is to satisfy that longing. It is dancing on the edge between our current reality and the life we want that presents the challenge and opportunity.

Let the river be our teacher in this adventure called life. Let it teach us what is necessary to navigate these waters and to make the journey fulfilling, adventurous and meaningful.

1. Find and live from your center. That was the message from the Green River. When you are centered and connected to your inner most being you are connected with the source of everything. I felt the safest and most secure when I was in the center of the river and the water could flow effortlessly. Meditation enables me to connect with that center every day.

2. Get out of your comfort zone. I could have stayed in the boat and played it safe but I was curious and adventurous. My comfort zone for me was my law practice and as a result my life for many years was on hold. Getting in the current and flow of life involves risk but that is what you need to so sometimes. Relationships also involve risk.... getting in them and getting out of them.

3. Learn to let go of resistance. Resistance is a struggle and makes you tired. At first I resisted the current of the river and tried to swim back to the boat. But I became tired from the struggle. Then I let go and stayed in the center and enjoyed the adventure. When you allow yourself to flow with what is, there will be a synchronicity in your life that seems magical.

4. Be prepared. I wore a life preserver on the river. When you are prepared you can relax and enjoy life more. Preparation involves taking care of your mind and body. It involves eating well and exercising. It involves being informed and being curious. It also involves working on yourself. As you expand who you are, your sense of what is possible in your life also expands.

5. Trust others and work together. You can't do it alone and why would you want to. When you are open and willing to receive you can create a synergy in your life that is greater than the sum of the individual parts. When the oar is extended accept it.

6. Develop the practice of gratitude. I was grateful for that oar. I was grateful that I got to experience the river. And I am grateful for my life. We all have a lot to be grateful for. By expressing gratitude for some of the inner qualities that are most important to us such as the ability to love, to smile and to connect with each other we expand our ability to attract to us these qualities.

7. The River of Life is a great mystery. I am becoming increasingly more comfortable with not knowing the next step. And when it comes I enjoy taking it. The river is unpredictable and you can't figure it out. Whether the water is still or raging it is still the same water. You have to just flow with it and enjoy the adventure.

With each passing year I am blessed to share the journey with many new like minded travelers. Thank you for reading Letters on Life and expanding our circle by forwarding this letter to those in your circle. The internet has been instrumental in connecting us with other like minded people all over the world. Letters on Life is now translated into three languages and last month people from 65 countries visited By the way when is your next river rafting trip?

Journey On


(415) 453-5016

About The Author
Mark Susnow has a unique background. Formerly a successful trial attorney for 30 years, as well as musician, he integrates what it takes to be truly prosperous in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation practice. As a personal coach, leadership consultant and inspirational speaker, Mark provides inspiration and motivation to many business leaders and professionals. He knows what it means to have a big vision and has demonstrated the courage and energy it takes to accomplish it. Consider contacting Mark and be sure to visit his website:

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