I’ve Been Through the Wilderness & This is What I Found. ~ Ben Ralston


Every life, every soul, is a river.

A river birthed from her source, sprung innocently into the world with abandon and youthful purity.

She pours down over rocks and mountains, cascades and waterfalls, sand and mud, all the while seeking her inevitable destination.

But there is no destination.


When the river finally finds the peace of the sea, she is surprised to find that: despite those great depths and the warmth and safety of oneness, there are storms and waves and shipwrecks.

And ultimately she is drawn upwards to the heavens only to be precipitated down again.

And so it goes, on and on, the breath and life of consciousness forever playing out this mysterious dance of beingness.

Every life has ups and downs, tranquil pools and white rapids. Every life has times of service and value, and wilderness years.

We want to believe that it’s possible to turn life into one long slow bend in the river. We have been taught and conditioned to believe that at some point it’ll all get easier and the problems of the world will recede into memory and imagination.

Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream…

But I’ve been through the wilderness, been broken over white rapids and flung out over cliffs and I can tell you what I found:

At the heart of my being exists a core of absolute power; so beautiful, so wise.

I found that every challenge arriving at my door is a teacher, a lesson, an opportunity. And if we’re open to those challenges, they mold us into who we would be.

Life is a river. But it’s also the rain and the sea and the waves and the rocks and the sky.

Life is all there is, and every step of the way, every injustice and each celebration—yes, even death—is just another breath of the Universe breathing herself into being.

In the end, everything simply melts into bliss. I remember my youthful exuberance, my innocent, joyful purity, but now it is mixed with wisdom and humility and (wears) gratitude (like a cloak).

And I need nothing. I want for nothing. Because I own it all.

I own it all. No more pretending to be small or needing to escape.

Here I am.

Here I am, and there too.

And the Universe holds out her hand and asks so sweetly and smilingly:

“Shall we dance?”



Love elephant and want to go steady?

Sign up for our (curated) daily and weekly newsletters!

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Author’s Own

You must be logged in to post a comment. Create an account.

Apr 19, 2014 9:40am

"I found that every challenge arriving at my door is a teacher, a lesson, an opportunity. And if we’re open to those challenges, they mold us into who we would be."
Exactly. 🙂

Kara-Leah Grant Apr 17, 2014 6:38pm

Love your work Ben – that is sublime! Keep it coming…

Tom Apr 16, 2014 3:51am

Thank you for this, Ben!

Read The Best Articles of March
You voted with your hearts, comments, views, and shares.

Ben Ralston

Ben Ralston has been practising personal development—necessity being the Mother of invention—since he was about six years old. He’s been teaching and sharing what he’s learnt along the way for a couple of decades. His main thing is Heart of Tribe retreats—whose very purpose is to help you fall back in love with life, no less. Leading these retreats alongside his woman Kara-Leah Grant—also an elephant journal writer (that’s how they met!)—they combine a deep well of lineage-based yoga teaching experience, with expertise in healing trauma and various other methods of personal development. Ben also works with clients one-on-one via Skype, writes, makes videos from time to time, and is passionate about parenting.
He lives in an intentional, tribal community in the hills of Croatia, where you might find him gardening barefoot and talking to the rocks. Connect with Ben on Facebook or YouTube or check out his website for more info.