Wednesday, February 6, 2008

A River of Friends

I was talking to a client the other day about her friends. She was upset because she didn't like the fact that her friends seemed to come and go in her life. I shared with her my analogy of what I think friends are.

To me, friends are like a great big river that flows around and past me. I am in the river, too. As the river of friends flows around me, I notice that some friends seem to be flowing at the same speed as I am, and they are the friends that I am privileged to be around at that time. Then, for whatever reason--the current picks up, I find a slower current, my friends find a faster one, I get caught on a "rock"--I find that the friends I was just with are no longer in front of me, and there are now different friends around me. The current of the river is perfect, the friends that are in front of me are perfect and I am perfect, and we are all flowing at the speed and in the current that is just right for us.

I've always loved this analogy, because it allows my friends and I the grace of our lives. It acknowledges that my friends and I will not always be in the same place at the same time. I may be in the rapids about a mile upstream from my friend, who is in the shallows ahead of me. I might be hanging out on the riverbank while many friends flow past and I get a chance to wave and say, "Hi dear one. Hope you are well. Catch you further downstream."

Another thing this analogy does is take me out of the driver's seat, in terms of my friends and who is currently in my life. I cannot control my friends (nor would I want to). I want my friends to know that WHENEVER they decide to contact me is perfect. I may be available or I may not. I wish the same for them. This free-flowing, accepting way of looking at friends has allowed me to make tons of friends all over the world and to love and accept them as much as I possibly can wherever and however they are.

Lately I've begun looking at the river not just in terms of my friends, but in terms of everyone with whom I have any kind of contact. These, too, are my friends, and some of them just don't know it yet. But all the same aspects of the river metaphor apply here, too.

PEOPLE are like a great big river that flows around and past me. I am in this river of people, too. All of us are flowing by each other at different rates of speed. And just like in the river of friends, in this river of people, we are all flowing past and around each other at the perfect speed.

Who is the river bringing in to my life now? As I'm able to let the river of people flow, without trying to control it (hopeless, I know), I find that I'm really interested in just who it is that is next to me in the river. I want to know more about this person, since the river as brought them to me. They're the gift to me from the river in this moment. Just as in the river of friends, I am not in the driver's seat when it comes to this river of people. The people appear, stay, come, go, reappear and disappear as the river takes them--all in perfect timing.

And because I am freely flowing in this river of people, and letting them flow freely as well (just as in the river of friends), I can love and accept whoever the river of people brings to me or sweeps away from me. I can enjoy them and our time together as much as I possibly can for however long the river allows us to float along together.


  1. This is such a wonderful metaphor for friendship! I find your description right on and very helpful. I have many friends come and go. This metaphor helps me see this is how it is supposed to be and no something I should beat myself up over! Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom.

    Brooke Castillo

  2. Thanks, Natalie. This was very helpful! I think sometimes I want what I want when I want it. And that can apply to friends. This idea greatly helps me to appreciate who I'm with right now.