“Row, row, row, your boat, gently down the stream,” the old childhood song played. “… merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.”
In my schooldays, this song was a regular chorus round that tested each singer’s ability to stay in tune while singing just a step ahead of or behind, another singer. But, today, that last line made me stop.
“Life is but a dream?” What esoteric wisdom has been given to us as children? Reminds me of Billy Joel’s River of Dreams…
And I’ve been searching for something
Taken out of my soul
Something I would never lose
Something somebody stole
El Juglador got to thinking, too.
“Imagine a droplet of water living as one of a Great River meandering through a vast countryside,” he said. “Gently, the river moves over sandy banks, between rocky cliffs, over smooth river boulders, but always the droplets remain near each other, like a family, never knowing anything but together.
“I imagine that when the river meets a waterfall, just over the edge, the droplets separate, some falling faster than others, some being blown distant by a passing gust of wind. As they fall, the droplets, who have lost their sense of self after being part of something greater, suddenly experience a separation from the family, floating and falling alone, experiencing the exhilaration and possible fear of the fall until the crash at the bottom, where the drops land unscathed to flow again down the river with the family.”
I remember when he mentioned this before, his belief that life is like a river. This song brought up the memory once again, and we both drifted off in thought. He pulled out his flute. I opened my laptop.
What if we are each like a drop of water? After all, we are practically all water ourselves. What if, as the song says, this reality we imagine is really just a dream? That 9-to-5, only a routine. That search for the perfect mate, really only a search for the comfortable family of the river, where we were one of many, never alone, never rejected.
Sometimes, water remains united, as in a chunk of ice left over from the winter before. When the warm spring rains come, the ice thaws and weakens and, when it hits a boulder or the hull of a speeding boat, the ice breaks apart. The water droplets, however, are never far from each other. Cohesion draws water to water, even fighting forces of gravity and wind with just the simple force of desire, never separating too far from the mass of the familial comfort that is the River of Home. What if this life we’re living is the drops of water falling off the cliff?
We are never too far from the moment of cohesion, but, as we fall, we are separated. Although the distance is only the empty space and the rush of the fall, we can’t remember that meandering river where we originated or the peaceful Home where we know we are returning eventually. We have become so enmeshed in the reality of our waterfall experience that we forget what it’s like to be part of the family of the River.
That moment of separation is when we humans need the power of faith most, that belief in one, unifying force that reminds us of the meandering river we used to call Home. The belief in the one God of the Great River of life is our only common denominator, many times.
What if God is that for which we search? Maybe that’s the reason we seek out relationships, why we swarm to social media and water-cooler friendships at work? Maybe that’s the reason we feel alone as we crash down to the blaring music of the roar of the waterfall?
I wish that, in lieu of the incessant bombardment of sexual propaganda and racial separation we get in our society, we were, instead, constantly reminded of ourselves as just one part of a falling river looking for the way home. Frozen in fear as we fall, we build our own sense of separation. In this reality of superficiality, we judge with our eyes in a racism that goes beyond the dictionary definition and goes all ways … the black man who speaks from his education is judged by his peers as too white, the white man working two jobs to feed his family must lead a privileged life because of his race. The black woman who doesn’t react to a traumatic situation the way others think she should is considered a liar by YouTubers looking for a new conspiracy, regardless of the reality she lives in an increasingly dangerous America. A woman who was born a Fernández is not recognized as Hispanic because she writes and speaks like the English-language writer she always dreamed she would be as an American-raised Cuban. An Ojibwa Indian flute player is not received as a Native American flute player because his eyes are too blue and his skin too light.
What if this Great River on which we’re traveling is simply the Universe; this life falling into a clear, refreshing lagoon, simply a dream full of experiences. Along the way, the River’s path changes, sometimes smooth, other times becoming rapids. God forbid, it swirls into a whirlpool with a vicious undertow or even a steep drop, like Venezuela’s Angel Falls. In the end, we will rejoin our family and realize we are all one. Imagine what we will Know when we splash down together at the end of the long ride.
I hope our actions during this free-fall of our return into The Great River of the All That Is will not make us feel too much guilt.
Namaste, my friends. I am, ever-faithfully,
The Dragonfly’s Writer