As I write this the temperature hovers in the single digits and snow covers the land. Maybe, however, as you read it, spring is in the air! The flux of the seasons, of time itself, seems forever active. I have often written in this space about the value of embracing this moment — this now. Today I want to examine another side of that value with you. How did we get to this moment? Where will we go after this fleeting moment has passed?
I recently encountered the idea that we are each individual drops in the river of life, always moving, never stopping, and all intricately connected to one another, as well as to our own pasts and to our own futures. This gave me pause, and led to this month’s thoughts on time. Join me on a journey to look at the flow of our lives as part of a river …
To focus exclusively on this moment, to put all of our energy into embracing now, seems to run the risk of losing sight of all that brought each of us to this moment, as well as what me might do about the moments downriver, in our unknown future.
Like in a river, what is upstream can cleanse us, energize us, push us, and sometimes even poison us. To ignore what is upstream is to ignore what has happened in our past. But ignoring doesn’t make it go away, it only pretends, risking leaving us poisoned or washed away. And to ignore the future is to abdicate responsibility over what will be downstream, in all of our moments to come. Embracing this moment without acknowledging the moments that come before, and those that will follow, then is irresponsible. We each need to find balance between the value of embracing now, and knowing where we have come from and where we are going.
This is true for us as parents as well. We can look upstream and see where we might have parented in ways that created snags for our children. We can accept our role in creating those snags, and then teach our children how to navigate around them as we all move downstream. This moment, these snags, are part of a much longer journey. Looking at the river, or journey, as a whole can make this moment, even when there are eddies and snags, and rushing water, a moment that can flow into new waters. Waters where what we do now will impact what those waters will be later.
So, as I look upstream, I see the things that have energized me, and embrace those things. I also acknowledge where I have loosed branches, where the waters have been too turbulent, and I know that what I do now can change how the waters might be for me, for my children, and for all of us farther downstream. In that awareness I can accept past imperfections while committing to improving the downstream version of the river in which I find myself. I can feel the togetherness of all of us as we tumble as one river, from its headwaters to its mouth; wishing and working for a better, cleaner, more joyful journey for us all.
Jennifer Moore-Kerr is a mom, a free spirit and a barefoot dancer living in Spring Green where she can walk to the river and commune with friends. In her spare time she leads discussions on meaningful topics in order to foster better civic, civil dialogue in the River Valley. She is delighted to share her thoughts on kids, time and nature on a rotating basis with other columnists focused on creativity, education and kids.