I was reminded recently of an imaginative game that I enjoyed when I was a kid. You can manage it in any sort of circular swimming pool so long as the water’s not too high; say, no more than chest height. You create a whirlpool by walking along the outer edge in a single direction for long enough that it creates a current around the perimeter. If you push hard then the momentum eventually becomes strong.
I’d get the whirlpool churning as powerfully as I could and then turn at a certain peak moment to go against it, testing whether I could confront its force without being toppled over. I’d imagine I was fighting against dark magic, defying the gods. Then I’d struggle forward in that opposing direction, eventually getting the current to flow the other way.
It occurred to me that this is an apt image for what we’re involved in when we begin taking steps to become conscious creators of our lives by working with our own thoughts, feelings and beliefs. Beliefs create momentum. Over time, thoughts that we’ve nurtured over and over again create currents in our lives. We find that we’re constantly being swept in certain directions, even if we don’t much care for those destinations and desperately wish we could land someplace else.
Once we become self-aware, though, we can decide to change course. At first, this is bound to create turbulence as we struggle to move against that old momentum. But if we keep at it then the time will come when the currents of our lives begin flowing the other way.
Reversing the Flow
Throughout The Edge of the Known saga, narrator Brandon Chane struggles – with some help from his mentor, Saul – to usher the currents of his life away from the self-destructive direction of his past and aim them towards light, love and healing. In What Casts the Shadow?, the first book of the series, he describes the place that he’d come from:
All the signs and omens were pointing down a black alley with a precipice at its end. It was as if my life was a river hemmed in on both sides by high granite cliffs and pulled by gravity so that it had no recourse but to plunge over the falls.
In time, though, the self-awareness that he reaps from his journey allows him to stem that dangerous pull because he comes to understand the beliefs that gave birth to it in the first place. He turns against the old momentum, feeling its lashes – it affects all aspects of his personal world, up to and including his relationship with his audience – but eventually gets that whirlpool (which is the life-force, directed by us, the creators) moving in a different direction.