I love Paulo Coelho, a Brazilian novelist and author of The Alchemist. He recently posted the following on his blog:
“A river never passes the same place twice,” says a philosopher. “Life is like a river,” says another philosopher, and we draw the conclusion that this is the metaphor that comes closest to the meaning of life. Consequently, it is always good to remember:
1. We are always doing things for the first time.While we move between our source (birth) to our destination (death), the landscape will always be new. We should face these novelties with joy, not with fear – because it is useless to fear what cannot be avoided. A river never stops running.
2. In a valley we walk slower. When everything around us becomes easier, the waters grow calm, we become more open, fuller and more generous.
3. Our banks are always fertile. Vegetation only grows where there is water. Whoever comes into contact with us needs to understand that we are there to give the thirsty something to drink.
4. Stones should be avoided. It is obvious that water is stronger than granite, but it takes time for this to happen. It is no good letting yourself be overcome by stronger obstacles, or trying to fight against them – that is a useless waste of energy. It is best to understand where the way out is, and then move forward.
5. Hollows call for patience. All of a sudden the river enters a sort of hole and stops running as joyfully as before. At such moments the only way out is to count on the help of time. When the right moment comes the hollow fills up and the water can flow ahead. In the place of the ugly, lifeless hole there now stands a lake that others can contemplate with joy.
6. We are one. We were born in a place that was meant for us, which will always keep us supplied with enough water so that when confronted with obstacles or depression we have the necessary patience or strength to move forward. We begin our course in a soft and fragile manner, where even a simple leaf can stop us. Nevertheless, as we respect the mystery of the source that gave us life, and trust in His eternal wisdom, little by little we gain all that we need to pursue our path.
7. Although we are one, soon we shall be many. As we travel on, the waters of other springs come closer, because that is the best path to follow. Then we are no longer just one, but many – and there comes a moment when we feel lost. However, as the Bible says, “all rivers flow to the sea.” It is impossible to remain in our solitude, no matter how romantic that may seem. When we accept the inevitable encounter with other springs, we eventually understand that this makes us much stronger, we get around obstacles or fill in the hollows in far less time and with greater ease.
8. We are a means of transportation. Of leaves, boats, ideas. May our waters always be generous, may they always be able to carry ahead everything or everyone that needs our help.
9. We are a source of inspiration. And so, let us leave the final words to the Brazilian poet, Manuel Bandeira:
To be like a river that
through the night, not fearing the
darkness and reflecting on
high in the sky. And if the sky is filled
with clouds, the clouds
are water like
the river, so without remorse reflect