When I was young, and stupid, cocksure yet ignorant beyond the meaning of the word, I put my oar in the water and knew with certainty that I could paddle against the current. I was its master.
I was wrong.
I started listening. Oh, the river is patient. The river is immense; it is love, beyond the meaning of the word. What appears to my eyes, ears and moistened skin as water, is so much more. I am taken.
I closed my eyes, and learned to trust. My vessel turned with the flow, and so began the truer journey. Opening my eyes, I watched as those fantastic shores I was so desperate for grew smaller and disappeared around the bend. My breath quickened; intensified, as what was now in front of me came faster and furiously.
Every time I would put my blade into the stream, I would have to fight it. Then, one day, it snapped in two, and I felt more foolish than I had ever felt before. Such hubris. Such unfounded arrogance. My father couldn’t help me, as he’d left the river when his vessel found a shallow. He was content to observe, to wait; to hopelessly bide his time. I am alone.
Rapids. Whitewater. I was terrified. My heart raced, pounding against my ribs. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know where I am going. I’m going to die on this river. I am going to die alone.
And I did. Quite a few times, I’ve died; I’ve learned that death comes in many forms. I am forever grateful to have found friendship with the means and the ends. Borrowed illusions and psychic delusions had me trapped in someone else’s matrix.
My vessel doesn’t question the river. My fears are attached to and derived from something else… is it mind? Who asks the question?
I carry on. We’ve found the shallows, and we’re stopped. It is abrupt, jarring, but I am suddenly given the gift of natural music all around me. Had that always been there? I was so focused on the path… Do I dare step out of the vessel and attempt to free it? Do I sit here and… no, he did this, and he was forever lost. Remember?
I am unsure. Why am I still so unsure?
I will move this vessel back into the stream. I know this will not be the last time. It seems lighter. I am stronger now — not by muscles and sinew, but from coming back home more often; from delving deeply into that seemingly infinite nature I’d been looking away from for most of my life. What a strange dichotomy. I want to judge that younger fellow, but I can see him now, clearly, and I hold him now, dearly. I love him. I sense my future self has an even deeper, calmer breath than I do now.
I am grateful.
The river again tests me. But I know, now, the river is me.