Golden Year Girl: My life, the floodplain

Rachel Bogardus

 

I was in a therapy session recently, overwhelmed by current life events, that are propelling me in directions I never anticipated. At that moment in time, I was feeling scared and unconfident, making it hard for me to hold myself together (and not be a crying, snot-nosed mess).

I was scared of the unknown; there were so many plans, ideas, and dreams I had set in place, that are no longer relevant. Scared of making the wrong choices, and how that’ll impact my tendency to let regrets consume me. Scared to make a decision too quickly and blindly leaving something behind without appreciating its beauty. Scared to live a life true to myself; it makes me feel selfish and responsible for someone else’s pain if my choices cause them heartache and despair. And the worst, most pathetic fear of all? I’m scared to follow through with choices. Unfortunately, society’s perceptions take up a lot of my headspace, so even if I believe deep down in my soul that I’m making the right decision for myself, there is this fear of not being accepted by others.

My therapist was there to offer me guidance, perspective, and peace. At first, the words and ideas he brought forth were not resonating, until he offered me a beautiful metaphor, which helped set me free in that moment.

He explained that my life is a floodplain.

At first, I didn’t understand what he meant or the significance of floodplains, but the more he explained, the more I realized how applicable it was to my life- to all of our lives.

To the best of my ability, let me explain:
After experiencing a heavy rainstorm or when the snow starts to melt, the water levels in a river begin to rise. Once there’s too much water for their banks to hold, the residual water will disperse to the lower lying land surrounding the river, also known as a floodplain.

Floodplains act like natural filtration systems, removing sediment and nutrients from water in the flooded area. The water recharges underground aquifers- providing drinking water to people and animals alike. Consequently, the sediments and nutrients that were removed from the water are left behind in the soil, making floodplains some of the most fertile grounds to grow crops and support wildlife.

Cyclical by nature, when flooding occurs in a floodplain it will wipe away the current ecosystems in place, causing initial chaos and distress. However, the process ultimately leaves the soil richer and the water cleaner, making the next cycle of growth better than ever before.

There will be many obstacles that in the current moment may feel like the end of the world, and may cause you to lose hope in yourself or others. But ultimately, there will always be a light at the end of the tunnel. No matter what adversity you may face, it gives you a gift by teaching you lessons on who you are, lessons on what you want out of your short life, and lessons on your surroundings. Lessons learned during times of hardship help you flourish into a better version of you. So embrace the pain. Learn from the pain. And apply the lessons you learn to improve your life. You have the conscious decision to wallow in your misery. Yet, you also have the conscious decision to be able to embrace what is and propel forward with light, love, and wisdom.

Now is the time to take action. You can be one with nature and you can be the floodplain- embrace the pain you’re going through, learn from it, and move forward with your head held high like the goddess you truly are.

I’ve carried around this idea every day since, to offer myself some sort of contentment in my messy life. Be the floodplain. Just be. “Plant a new Truffula. Treat it with care. Give it clean water. And feed it fresh air.” -The Lorax by Dr. Suess.

 

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