Sunday, 24 January 2010

Rivers, Streams, and Tiny Brooks

"I do love the sound of your life, rippling, murmuring, giggling, humming along as you live your days,"  wrote a dear old friend the other day.  I smiled at her description of my life and thought of myself as a little brook splashing its way from one tiny lake to another.  The occasional bit of treacherous rock outcropping to manoeuvre around.  The odd waterfall to navigate.  The occasional portage necessary. But mainly a pretty serene life.

Margaret Laurence wrote of life as a river in The Diviners.  Moving water is not an uncommon metaphor for life, but we usually think of much larger rivers, ones with depth, and speed, and great breadth and length.  Important rivers. But perhaps that is because the metaphor is used most often in the middle of a life.  When it describes old age, it is the end of the river,  the estuary where the water spreads out over mud flats to meet the sea gently, sluggishly.

I think I much prefer the idea of my life coming to its end in a little tributary, in a happy little stream.  I've lived through the tumultuous years, the years of being a part of the world, the years of building  career and family, the years when what I did made a difference. Now I am quite content to live my life simply ... rippling, murmuring, giggling and humming my way along.

I am lucky.  The friend who wrote those words is back in hospital for the second time since November when I visited her.  She is still hopeful and positive, but living is hard work these days.  I wish she could join me in my little tributary and have some respite from the waves that threaten to engulf her.


Anonymous said...

Welcome back!
I had given up looking at your site every morning -- glad you emailed me.

I enjoyed the description of your life that you quoted very much. A fascinating little brook it is, too.

I just read somewhere that if the first third of one's life is to learn what you need to know for the second third: accomplishing things, raising a family, etc, then the last third is more philosophical: losing the ego & learning how to make a good death.

I would say losing the ego sooner rather than later is a huge key to happiness.

Barbara Carlson
I add this because my Google password doesn't always connect.

IrishGirl said...

You and Barbara both have given me much to think about and imagine. Such an interesting post.

Oma said...

I just read in a memoir written by a woman who is now in her eighties. She says we learn and play and work very hard till we are about 60 and then, if we are lucky, we have three stages left.

In the first stage we have a great deal left to give to the world so we volunteer our time, knowledge, wisdom, and energy.

Then we go through a stage where we have to spend our time looking after ourselves.

The final stage is the one in which others must care for us.

The same good friend who wrote about my brook-like life says that it is very hard to learn to ask for that help when needed, to find that kind of generosity within oneself.

Anonymous said...

An acquaintance has been confined to a hospital bed in his living room & looked after (for everything) by his loving wife. Friends recently gathered around his bed, all holding hands, telling stories about him, laughing and crying. He woke up and said, "Am I dead?"
"No!" they cried, "we're just having a living wake."
I hope he smiled and said carry on.

That is my idea of a good death. Friends who gather round at the end to remember you at your best. And you can listen in!

Barbara Carlson

Oma said...

Great death ...

Anonymous said...

well this is interesting. just a week or so ago i wrote a friend and wrote of how brave a little creek is to meet the ocean. to make a channel thru the strand. and disapear forever. and said i could never be that courageous. to meet the firing squad as it were and chose no blindfold. and i realized it was a metaphore for death. our little stream goes back into the ocean never to be the same. back where it came from. altho molecules of water will eventually find their way back into the same streambed. then it occurred to me that i am afraid to throw myself into anything that might absorb me completely. that i might lose myself. in a love affair? a search for the perfect wave? an attempt to solve so and so's mathematical paradox?

Oma said...

Whew! Anonymous 2 ... wonderfully and fascinatingly enigmatic ... Who are you and how did you find me?