The Gift of River

Today’s post is brought to you from my good friend D, who originally wrote it as an email to a friend. Personally, I love it. I hope you enjoy it too.

I wanted to share with you a story and a lesson I learned. This is a rare letter. It does not require a reply, nor any thanks. Just attention for a few moments.

gift-riverA man was walking his path. Few days after leaving the comforts of his house he came to the bank of a river. He stood there for a few days drinking its fresh water, eating its fish, sleeping on the soft dry sand of the bank. But to continue his journey he had no choice but to cross it, since there was no bridge in sight.

So, one day, he decided to do so.

As he stepped into the ice cold water, his legs and feet start to hurt. The current was very powerful and he was submerged several times by the force of it. As he struggled not to drown, stones and sands were painfully hitting his body. As he started to lose his strength and thought all hope was lost, two men on the other side of the bank came to his help, throwing him a rope and probably saving his life.

With his body still battered by the crossing, shivering from the cold, sore and exhausted by the sincere effort, the traveler stopped and turn back and stare at the river. Looking at its tumultuous waters, he said “thank you”.

In the short path of our life’s, sometimes, we face adversities. We have to cross rivers. There are two choices we can make.

We can either be angry at the river because its a river. Curse its existence and its choice of path. We can decide to believe that the suffering that it gave is fruitless and meaningless. In such a case, as we are presented with many rivers to cross, life becomes a continuous source of endless hanger, pointless pain and consuming frustration.

On the other hand we can choose to notice the gifts the rivers carry. Often we drink its water and eat its food. More importantly, as we face hardship we have the opportunity to understand who we really are. What are we made of, our strength, the meaning of courage and our weakness. Each time a river is crossed, we grow stronger and wiser. The path of life becomes easier. What are rivers for some, become small creeks to us, and they don’t bother our minds as much. In the moment of hardship, when all hope is lost we have a rare opportunity to see who really is next to us. The people who genuinely care for us, who selflessly help, and who can love without reserve and without the desire or need to be rewarded. In such a case, life becomes a continuous source of blessings and joy is behind every struggle.

One day, not too long ago, I too was in a very frustrating situation. I felt betrayed, and humiliated. The hate for a person and bitterness of her actions was devouring my days. I did not enjoy that state of mind so I asked a friend for guidance.

He asked “Are you starving?”
“No, not really” I replied.
“So you must be really really thirsty?”
“…No, not at all” I replied again.
“Well, then it must be you have not been sleeping for days”.
“I am not sure why you say that, but I slept fine” I said.
“So are you really so fragile?…. It is what it is. If you really understand the source of it, you can only smile and move on.”

Suddenly I realized I was not fragile. My disappointment with others was misplaced expectation and, in a way, it was funny as asking a dog to be a cat. So, I smiled and moved on.

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