No. 215



The United States Of America is blessed to have some great rivers and they provide our people with so many benefits that it would be impossible to list them all. In the early days of our nations history these natural streams of water provided the pioneers with means to move people and supplies to remote areas which, by and large, were inaccessible by other modes of transportation. Its little wonder that today many of our major cities are located alongside these majestic ribbons of water.

Just as the ox, horse, mule and other beasts of burden were harnessed to give us leverage, we also learned to harness the rivers to provide hydroelectric energy and the resulting impoundments, more or less, created the recreation and sport fishing industries. To say it another way, when you harness a deep flowing stream by building a dam you have created the potential for power and this power has been one of the major factors in our nations massive economy.

But just as any auto mechanic knows, when you have a plus you must also have a minus. What happens when a major river floods and overflows its banks? A while back I was talking with a friend from Saint Joseph, Missouri and he was telling me about the dry flood they had a few years ago. He said, it never rained a drop but half our town was under water.

Of course my friend was talking about the major flood of 1993 that impacted the entire Midwestern part of our country when the Mississippi and Missouri rivers and many of their tributaries overflowed their banks. In many cases these rivers were 10 - 15 miles wide and covered everything except a few high hills here and there. People and livestock lost their lives and many people lost all their possessions. This was and still is a sad situation, but my point is that when a river overflows its banks, it loses much of its power. In this case, it was the heavy rains upstream that pushed the rivers and created a terrible situation for thousands and thousands of people downstream.

At this point I want to change gears and use this natural disaster as an analogy to demonstrate what happens when a human being tries to push the river. We see people around us each day who seem to be in a big hurry, going at breakneck speed, but in reality are going nowhere. Without a clear focus and direction in our lives, we just wind up being frustrated and this mental state can result in stress and even a heart attack.

Hopefully, you see the point I am making. With this in mind here is a question that you may want to think about for a little while. Do you feel extreme pressure to succeed and are you burning the candle at both ends? If this is your case, why not think about my example of the river. It has tremendous power and potential if its channeled and focused but it loses much of its power for good if it is pushed to the point of overflowing its banks.

The highways and byways of life are littered with people who were in too big of a hurry. The good news is that most of us can truly succeed over the long haul and get better with age. Many of our nations greatest thinkers and achievers did not do their best work until later in life and its good to be reminded of this from time to time. We should also keep in mind that age, wisdom and success are not synonymous but rather its the wise person who develops a worthwhile plan and then works steady toward achieving it. If you feel stress in your life, slow down a bit and remember what I have said here, dont push the river. A flood of tears and heartache may be the end result. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)