June 3

Drops and Waterfalls

June 3, 2011

Personal Growth

A couple of years ago I traveled on a cruise—as part of a family reunion—to Norway, which is justifiably famous for its towering mountains and fjords. I saw more beautiful waterfalls than I could count—at least twenty that I could see from just one particular spot called Gudvangen. It was like great torrents of water were falling magically out of the sky in all directions.

We took a bus up a winding, narrow road to the tops of the mountains surrounding the fjord, and I found a place where single drops of ice were lazily falling from the melting ice. Just one unremarkable drop after another, but these drops joined with others from surrounding pieces of ice, then formed tiny rivulets, then streams, then rivers that eventually fell from the towering cliffs more than 2500 feet to the surface of the still fjord.

With every choice we make, we create a drop that joins a drop created by another choice. These many choices create patterns of attitudes and behaviors that have the force of enormous rivers falling thousands of feet, with unspeakable power. They can sweep away relationships, divide families, and completely eliminate any possibility of happiness in our individual lives. And this process of destruction all begins with what appear to be harmless individual drops.

But rivers don't have to be destructive. In Norway, the waterfalls are harnessed and used to produce 99% of the electricity used there. Rivers all over the world are used for transportation, agriculture, drinking, and more. It can be so with the rivers created by our decisions.

When a river reaches a certain size and velocity, there isn't much we can do about changing its flow. It can sweep away houses, split rocks, and erode mountains. It's the same with the effects of our choices, so we need to be rigorously truthful about them while they're still small drops, because at that point we can still direct how they flow and what they do—to ourselves and those around us.

 

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