Sunday, July 6, 2014


     I thought myself an adventurer in life, like a Walter Mitty, an H.H., or a Francis Macomber - but which? All things are possible for adventurers. I had heard about the old legends, read the old stories, studied the maps. My goal? Visit the legendary River of Life, especially my personal tributary. So, fully packed and loaded, machete in hand, I set off.
     All peoples and cultures speak of the River of Life and how the ancients of all civilizations were born on the banks of this vast and ever moving stream: Mekong, Amazon, Rhine,  Mississippi, Congo, Yangzee, Yenisi, Danube, Nile, Tigres, Po, Limpopo, Euphrates, Ganges, Colorado and others are all a tributaries to this mighty flow.
     The River of Life is that mighty and powerful flow which nourishes all living things on earth in a physical and metaphorical sense. All rain on the planet which runs off into any watershed eventually arrives in one of the major rivers of the world and these all flow into the River of Life.
     And we, as peoples spread across the earth contribute to a flow of peoples, clans and families, in a cultural river of life which takes our individual accomplishments and combines them into the history of humanity.
     “If I saw this river,” I thought, “I would become enlightened about the unique contribution my family and I have made to the world.”  That would be an adventure!

     How did my life affect the flow of the River of Life? I hoped to find the special point at which my gifts and contributions affected the rolling flow of life.
     I finally reached the banks of an amazingly large and mighty river.  Never had I seen something of this magnitude and power. I asked the man who operated a ferry boat service what river I was beholding and he said, “The River of Life.”
     “All of life?” I asked.
     “ May I presume you’re an American looking for the river of YOUR life? I get lots of Baby Boomers looking for THEIR river.”
     “Yes.” I said.
     He asked my name, my wife’s name, children’s names and consulted a roll of old maps and charts. “Your river is upstream. I’ll take you there. Hop in.”
     I climbed into his canoe which had an outboard motor on it and we headed upstream.
     “What is the source of the river? From whence does it flow?”
     “Since this IS the River of Life,” he said, as I turned toward him, “It would stand to reason that it flows from the source of all time – upstream.” He said, “And goes downstream to the ocean of Death.”
     “Death?” I said. "Well, let's go upstream, okay?" My adventure and learning was beginning already.
     We pulled over to a small rivulet trickling over stones down a rocky bank to the River of Life. It was next to a wide flowing pretty good sized river and three other rivers.
     “Here you go.” He said as he beached the canoe. I got out.
     I looked at the robust, beautifully flowing stream with three mid-sized flows and the paltry flow over a gravel bed.
     “Is this MY RIVER?” I asked.
     “The larger one is your wife’s. Yours is the trickle.” He said pointing at the trickle over the gravel.
     “Mine seems a little shallow.” I said.
     “Well...” he said.
“There must be a mistake.” I said, “I write a blog!"
     “Oh, a blog!"
     "And, it's read by, oh, at least tens of people on a good day.”
     "Do you fancy your blog ‘thoughty’”, he asked.
     “Insightful...” I said.
     “That explains the gravel,” he said, “you’re trying to be hotiy-toity and you’re obviously bashing half-baked thoughts together which breaks ‘em down. You heard about people having ‘rocks in their heads’? Well, if your rocks is sedimentary and not original thoughts to begin with, you wind up with this. I see it all the time. Especially with Geezers from the U.S. They hit 60 and suddenly thoughts appear in their brain which they feel compelled to write down. It's called a 'Mystic Phase.'
     "I've got a Mystic Phase?" I was ecstatic.
     "It's all gravel. Maybe you ought to walk upstream. Maybe there was something you actually DID in your life which gave you some kind of depth. Look back up there.” He pointed. “There’s a little pool up there. What did you do about a year ago?”
     “I was listening to a lot of hip-hop music.”
     “Well there you GO! That’s CULTURE that’s different from yours! Dr. Dre, Jay-Zee and Maclemore and Lewis put a LITTLE depth into your life. SEE, you’re not SO shallow there! You CAN get depth after all! Just go upstream.”

     “My wife’s stream is so DIFFERENT.” I mused.
     “Wot’s she do?” he asked.
     “She’s a teacher, an artist, and a therapist.”
     “Well, there you GO!” he said. “REAL depth, caring and compassion here – fearlessness – SEE her stream has got DEPTH instead of crashing dumb ideas together and winding up with gravel.”
     “And my kids?”
     “Oh, they got a good stream bed. Solid rocks. Not the sedimentary type you got. This is real granite. Marble. Hard. Durable. A great lot of ideas there. Lots of ‘em. Don’t worry about them. Lots to work with here.”
     He walked back to his canoe.
     “So, I’ll leave you to your adventure. Good luck. Go upstream – remember, upstream is opposite the way the water flows.”  He hopped back into his canoe, gave me a wave, headed downstream and left me to my search for enlightenment. I wondered how long I’d have to splash through the trickle before I hit real rapids... if there any rapids. My Mystic Phase was making my memory a bit fuzzy.
     It still left me with the question: was I more like Walter Mitty, H.H. or Francis Macomber?

© Copyright 2014, Jean W. Yeager
All Rights Reserved

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1 comment:

  1. Note: Walter Mitty, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” by James Thurber;
    H.H. the narrator in “The Journey To The East” by Herman Hesse;
    Francis Macomber, “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber”, Ernest Hemingway.