“Each person lapses back as a drop of water does returning to the ocean, unchanged and unchangeable from the sojourn in the body.”
An excerpt from my new book.
A river’s beginnings are imagined in the twinkle of a drop of water be it up high in the heavens or released from a glacier near the summit of the highest mountains on Earth. I met just such a drop once as a young boy back in the Ladakh region of the Himalayas. It was a long time ago. She was mesmerising and I will never forget her. But I diverge. For the purposes of this story, let’s observe the drops as they are attracted to one another in the earth’s atmosphere, and when they get too heavy for the cloud to support them, they are released and rain down on the windward side of a mountain. There will always be that first drop that searches to find a groove between the stones and rocks, or through the sand, looking for the companionship of others. Eventually they unite again into one body and form a puddle. The puddle overflows becoming a trickle seeking that groove again, and the trickle becomes a stream. Soon the stream is flowing with an intentional momentum, a growing understanding that it has presence and somewhere to go. That groove has now become a fully-fledged riverbed that has nursed many a stream on to greatness. Subtly the stream and its wandering flow has morphed into a river that has changed lanes over centuries and millennia, but it never forgets its mission: to keep flowing ever on. The data contained within each molecule is constantly being updated but equally there is an innocence of what lies ahead. Every grain of sand, ribbon of algae, fish, rapids or rock it makes contact with, increases its knowledge of its environment. The further it travels the more confident and powerful it becomes as other streams and rivers merge with it, bringing with them ever more new and exciting experiences. What lies ahead is always a mystery but our river never chooses to turn back against the flow that impels it on and down to the sea. The river’s bed tells it so. There may even be a time when a number of drops will get caught up in a pool, cut off from their beloved river, and for those few drops their journey will come to an end too soon and they are returned to source in an unexpected way, or perhaps the holdup may be short lived, and with the following rains the drops finds a route back into the flow. No two molecules of water experience the river of life in the same way; no journey can ever be quite the same as another’s. As a drop we can choose to flow keeping one foot on the right bank, that of the Land of the Senses, and maybe even become overly obsessed with its form and beauty, its highs and its lows. We would then miss altogether what is happening over on the left bank. Equally we may find ourselves becoming too airy-fairy over on the other bank, the Land of Spirit, wondering what it would be like if only we could fly. I prefer to stay in the free flow with an eye on both banks. That way I remain aware of all that is happening around me, and I call that the peaceful or middle way. One-day, after many years, the river broadens, the flow grows a little tired and lingers longer in the area. It spies for the first time what it has been inexorably flowing towards, the great oceans of the world who appear dauntingly infinite. Will it get swallowed up by the Big Blue? Will the river find its place in it? But still it does not falter; the sea salt cannot hurt it because the river finally smells its role in the creation of life on Earth, and remembers water’s destiny to provide the great and small cycles of life that bring the bounty of sustenance to all of nature. Finally the river spreads it arms wide and rejoices at finding its way home. And maybe soon, maybe later, or one day far into the future a drop of that same river may rise once again from the deep blue sea up into the heavens and embark on a new journey to a different corner of the world, and its adventures will start all over again. Perhaps as rainfall on the Masai Mara plains of Africa, or maybe as snow on top of the Andes Mountains. And so it goes, my hearties. Each molecule of water drops back seamlessly into the ocean, unchanged and unchangeable, after a long journey down the river of life. Did you know that you can never step into the same river twice? Well, the water may look little different but the molecules that tickle your feet will never again be the same ones. They travelled on by in the blink of an eye.
When you dig my grave
Could you make it shallow
So that I can feel the rain
Written by Dave Matthews, album Some Devil