Lessons from Nature: The Undercurrent


An undertow, like any other struggle, pulls the very foundation out from under an unwitting and unwilling participant. While awareness exists for many that the undertow lurks close by, the unexpected surprise of the struggle formidably opposes a sense of security. Many fight for survival not realizing that it is not always necessary to fight to persevere.

The very nature of an undertow bestows a strength that pales the strength of the human struggle. The current funnels from a wide expanse to a small end while pulling everything in its path through it. Any avid scuba diver or seafarer trains to be aware of the proper course of action to take in an undertow. This course of action enables the diver to save energy for the ensuing swim to the shore. Any person untrained in the proper course of action, might fight the fight resulting in disaster.

The fight sometimes becomes the primary struggle to survive in an undertow. In a display of panic, the swimmer attempts to defy the course of nature, the very course of struggle, to swim back to the shore in direct opposition to the nature of the current. The fear of the unknown end and the need to get back to safety drives the swimmer in a direction that creates a struggle within a struggle and a fight within a fight. In the end when the struggle reaches the ultimate end that it would have reached even without the fight, the swimmer, left with no energy to come back to a place of safety, finds it necessary to continue to tread water until safety arrives or drowning occurs.

Yet, survival in an undercurrent, or struggle, easily becomes a natural course when the very nature of the struggle becomes the solution. A skilled diver swims in the direction of the current to save the energy needed to return to the safety of the shore. The current, or struggle, will continue in the direction it desires with or without a fight from the unwilling participant. The swimmer, while using the energy of the current, will adapt by swimming perpendicular to the current understanding that the narrow nature of the current minimizes over the course of it. Once the swimmer is free of the current, the swimmer has the same energy he started with to assess and recover back to safety.

At times, our lives end up being a fight within a fight. Some find themselves in the throes of the panic of struggle forgetting that the end will be the end regardless of how hard we struggle to get back where we began. We fight backward instead of allowing the unpleasant circumstances to pull us forward to a place where we must reassess and recreate a new way with a stronger perspective of safety. By fighting to get back to where we began, we may end up "treading water" or, worse, continually having to relive the struggle if we succeed in getting back to where we started.

Conversely, if we let life move us through our struggles and, instead of fighting, adapt in a stronger way, how much more will we be aware of struggle lurking nearby? How much more prepared will we be when other struggles come? How much more willing will we be to allow a greater force, or a greater power, to lead us through the new beginnings and a more balanced life?

We do not have to fight our struggles. They come to us as a tool to learn. Using these tools allows us to judge our behavior, change our way or associations, create better tools, and help others. Fighting the use of these tools leads to denial, ongoing struggle, victim mentality, ego, struggle for control, and desperation at the least. Which do you identify with?

How to survive a rip current:
1. Remain calm.
2. Try to regain your footing.
3. Get help if you can.
4. Save your energy by swimming and floating parallel to the shore. The current is usually narrow.
5. Don't fight the current; use the current.
6. When you are free of the current, swim to shore.

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