The archetypical Master in Anthony DeMello’s books once said, “All I did was sit on the riverbank handing out river water.” In other words, all he did is point out the plainly obvious. But sometimes we need someone to point us to it. That’s the teacher I like, the teacher that hands me river water to drink, not koolaid.
I have a sense that I can trust a teacher when I get that “river water” feeling about what she teaches. I get the feeling that, even though the thoughts are new to me, they are drawn from some fundamental stream of obvious wisdom. Something that, if I had just opened my eyes, I could have discovered — or I had already known — by myself. Had I not been looking for something fancier. Or a shortcut.
I got that river water feeling upon reading the mystics, particularly of the Christian faith. Apologetics left me unimpressed. Theology was just mental gymnastics to me. It was mysticism that was my doorway back to a faith that I shed as a child.
I got that river water feeling when I first started learing about foresight and futures. Sure the ideas were new to me, but they seemed to draw from things that were obvious, things I already somehow knew. I just needed the paradigm shift to see them. So I pursued my masters’ degree in Studies of the Future.
I got that river water feeling when I encountered Lean and Six Sigma. I had that feeling that I had seen all this stuff before. Indeed, all the tools and techniques are established engineering techniques, but in a new presentation. So I pursued Black Belt training.
And my latest river water feeling comes from taking Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. Most of that stuff he teaches is so obvious that I almost feel ashamed for not already knowing and practicing it. It is simple to understand and very hard to do, because the answers to my financial life are not sexy or exciting, but quotidian and dull. Like River Water.