Paddle With the Current

June 18, 2012

If you sometimes feel you are swimming upstream, perhaps you are and need to turn your canoe around and face the direction you really want to go.


A ”Fond Farewell” Article

When I changed Support4Change to a new format, I needed to delete some articles that didn’t fit in the new site but were too good to completely throw away. So I have moved many of them here to the blog, where they will still be available and people can find them by using tags. Enjoy.


Paddle with the Current

Reprinted with permission

Muskoka canoe 2A couple of years ago, while my husband and I were on vacation, we decided to do a thirteen-mile canoe trip. We had a wonderful leisurely trip down the river and it is a day that I still remember fondly. At one point, I looked across the river and saw two people in another canoe working really, really hard. They were paddling against the current.

Although they were laughing about going upstream and yelling across the river to us that it was THE way to travel, they were definitely fighting against the river’s flow. They were also working a lot harder than we were on that beautiful summer day. We too were working (actually my husband did the majority of the paddling so that made the trip really easy for me); but most of the time, traveling with the current helped us and gave us the extra momentum we needed to move towards our desired destination. The only time we had any difficulty on that wonderful day was when we decided to give some ducks the right of way.

So, dear readers, have you guessed that I’m using the river as a metaphor for life? Do you have any areas in your life that you just might be paddling upstream? One of the most effective ways of connecting to the flow of your life is by making the present perfect.

Although the present may not be what you want or like, it is still perfect. Even if the present isn’t exactly what you want, you can still make the most of it by accepting your current reality. You can avoid the physical exertion involved with trying to paddle upstream and against the current, because you aren’t wishing your present were different. You’ll find that you begin to move with the current instead of fighting against it because your focus is in the present time zone (not the past or future). You will have more focus simply because your concentration and attention aren’t divided.

Again, you don’t have to like your present in order for it to be perfect. You may not like the extra 10 pounds you may be carrying around, you may not like being downsized or laid off from your last job, you may not like having to work a side job to support your acting or art or you may not like living from paycheck to paycheck, but this may be your current reality and it is perfect nonetheless. It is simply what is so. Not what could be, what should be or might be. It is what you have today and once you accept your today, you don’t have to struggle to paddle upstream anymore. You connect with flow by consciously and mindfully stepping into your today.

And when we come to accept the reality of our lives today, we have clarity about choices that are available to us. The choices you make today will affect your tomorrow. And the present you are living today was created out of the choices you made yesterday. The best way to create a wonderful future is by living well in today. The present will become the future.

Recently, a coaching colleague passed away and this moved me to write about the topic of present perfect and flow. I didn’t know her personally. Nor is it noteworthy in the larger scheme of things that she passed away, people die every day. What is particularly poignant in this situation is that she was in her early thirties. And, as sad as it is when an older person passes away, I have always found comfort in the fact that they’ve lived a long life and had an opportunity to experience much of what life can offer. Whereas someone who passes away at a relatively young age, simply hasn’t had the time to get to everything s/he plans on doing “one day”. One day simply doesn’t come when one passes away at a young age.

One advantage in accepting that your present is perfect, is that you aren’t waiting for “one day” to arrive because you are content to live in the today you’ve created. You can plan for your future, but what you live and what you experience as you plan for the future is your today. Look around you: What is waiting for your attention today? What opportunities are available to you today?

© Copyright 2002, Lea Brandenburg

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


Lea Brandenburg is president of Creating Strategies in New York, NY, and has been coaching an international group of clients and businesses since 1997. Her areas of expertise and passion are interpersonal and business communication, intuitive intelligence and creativity. She is a graduate of CoachInc, the coaching industry’s premiere and oldest training program, a member of the International Coach Federation, which is an association dedicated to preserving the integrity and ethics of the coaching profession, and a Founding Member of Coachville, the first online coaching training company and portal. You can contact her at or calling (917) 770-8215.


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