The Only Way Out is IN

Today, I’m checking the UPS delivery link to see when our new piece of wall art is arriving (it’s currently “out for delivery”…and so I wait). The piece is a kind of impressionistic depiction of a river flowing by green banks. I like that it’s not too realistic, leaving room for interpretation.

I bought this specifically for our house because, around here, we live by the principle that “the only way out is IN.” And by “IN,” I mean we’re in the river of life on a watercraft, making our way as the flowing water cuts through varied landscapes en route to meet the great wide ocean.

You’ve probably read the bumper stickers and memes that proclaim “the only way out is through.” That used to make good sense to me. Of course, we have to power through the hard stuff to get to the other side.

However, this trope fell short once I began my focused journey of personal growth. I perceived that going through something meant I was just trying to get to safety. I decided the metaphor of crossing through a raging river to crawl up onto the bank figuratively invited me to rest on the water’s edge too much of the time. Once I’m cozy on the riverbank, I find it really hard to get back in for the next adventure. Thus, I decided to figuratively stay IN the river.

Sometimes the water rages, sometimes it flows gently, but I’ll stay in and keep going.

A few years ago, I heard a beloved life coach talk about “the river of misery.” She used this analogy to describe the process of proactively going for audacious goals that will surely include hard lessons and failures along the way. (I describe this as “discomfort on purpose for a purpose.”) I appreciated the idea but not the use of “misery.” By envisioning that I’m always IN the river of life, I’m part of the flow.

Whether the river is choppy, challenging, and miserable or smooth, serene, and leisurely, I’m IN.

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