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I am like the river


I wake, alone, always alone, and wonder; why does it have to be like this?

I move slow, zombie like, to the kitchen dragging a handful of clothes which will be my armor this day. Too thin to keep life’s pains from intruding. Just enough to hide them.

It is too late in the morning to stretch my body and mind. Too late even for coffee.

Half dressed, I look down to Brown Dog, my traveling partner for these last twelve years, though he is going on fifteen or sixteen or I-don’t-really-know-what-teen since I picked him up as a feral stray, and I smile. I admire him. He is always ready to love and be loved.

I celebrate his birth along with my own in November which looms ever closer. I will be 54. How the fuck did that happen?

I make the time to love him then let him out the back door and shuffle to the front while pulling a dirty shirt over my head (too late now to find a clean one) and let myself out.

As the day progresses, the loads of water going from my truck to the road we are building keeps time like a slow moving metronome, those morning thoughts continue to intrude.

Surely I’ve learned the lessons that earn me the right to love and be loved? Surely the person I am now, regardless of my past, is worthy? Surely I deserve that most basic of all rights? Why am I such a failure?

I get ahead of the work crew and park my truck by the river that supplies the water I get paid to make the roads muddy with and walk to an overlooking edge.

I sit and breathe. Deep and slow.

I allow those thoughts to flow like the water that passes in near silence in front of me. I listen to and acknowledge each of them; “You are not worthy”… yes, I understand that’s how you feel. “You do not deserve”… it’s ok to feel like that. “You will never be happy”… it’s ok.

Each thought repeated with the impact and clarity gained through years of practice. Each identified, acknowledged, validated then treated with the same care and compassion I would offer another and released.

They are just words. Labels. They mean nothing.

Slowly, with practiced patience, the thoughts are reduced to a whisper and are replaced by the sound of the wind, a trickle of water, the birds, the rotation of the earth through the cosmos.

I slowly open my eyes and watch the gentle flow of the river and, without thought, begin to understand; The path I am on is like this little river that cuts its way through miles of prairie. It’s sweeps and bends the altered courses of my life. Its flow from past, through present, and towards the future.

I see my reflection in the surface. Static. Unmoving. It is in this static image that those thoughts live but it is an illusion. Beneath the surface the water is constantly flowing as it slides past stones and cuts its ever changing course through the prairie.

If I were to submerge myself in those slow moving waters, become one with it, there would be no past, no future, no false reflections, only a sense of Now. Eternal. Dynamic. It has no beginning. No end. It flows to the sea. Evaporates. Returns as rain. Flows.

It is that sense of Now, that never ending cycle, that I strive for in my meditation. Yes, the thoughts remain. My mind, like everyone else’s, never ceases its rumination and contemplation and formulation. It mutters incessantly.

But today, right now, I am like the river.





Image by JMGreff


    • It’s a pretty accurate description of that particular day. Including the thoughts.

      Living mindfully and practicing meditation doesn’t magically make them disappear. It is a way of living that removes their power.

      Do I believe those thoughts? No.

  1. Your soul wants to tell you something, you are here only becasue you must leran something, emotions are just a product of you mind, you are the only one who can create your day. Stop for a minute and think, if looking for an answer outside, somewhere has lead you to an answer? Connect with your inner self and start an amazing and wonderful journey : )

    • You just opened up a whole warehouse of philosophy, spirituality, and pathwork with that comment but there’s a couple isles at the front that catch my attention titled “Beliefs and Practices” and theres a box on one of the shelves that is labeled “communication with the Divine” and a folder inside it with the words “interpretations of the mundane” that holds a letter that says in fine print, like a footnote, “listen”.

      The Universe is always speaking to us. Sometimes she shouts. Other times she whispers. Still other times she appears as a river or the words of a song or a poem or as someone leaving a comment suggesting I take a minute to think about it.

      I always do.

      The interpretation of her language is always internal but her voice as often comes from outside as from in. I’ve learned to listen wherever she speaks. To learn, with gratitude, whatever it is she offers. To express and share those lessons through acts of love both to myself and, more importantly since I become an instrument of the Divine in doing so, to others.

      I have a long way to go on my journey but it’s been a hell of a ride so far 🙂

  2. Living in the Now means a state of aglessness where one no longer travels on that linear line of time! Not moving from past to present to future! No clock time, no physchological time, just being in reality! This is a process of practice and some days I’m more effective than others. But when I stray from putting my attention in the moment and being mindful, then my thoughts can become heavy.
    I truly enjoy stepping into your knowledge and experience of life through your words! Validation of what is will be found.

    • The way I see it there are two main ways of living in the Now (well, three, but I’ll touch on that in a minute):

      The first, as you state, is being Present Now. The funny thing about this state is that it is our natural state. We exist only on the burning edge of creation despite the fact that we live linearly and then convince ourselves otherwise by resurrecting and reliving the past or, even worse really, living in a future which may or may not ever exist at all.

      The second is to Experience Now as near as we can, given the fact that we are linearly bound, to the experience of the Divine. The Universe exists outside of time. Not in a state of Now but in a state of ever or infinite with neither beginning nor end as the I AM. While our soul is certainly capable of that since it is One with the Universe our souls are bound to our physical vessels so we, as human, can not. But we can experience the Triad of Time (past, present, future) to some extent. I suppose there are those who can experience this completely. I am not one of them… not without “assistance” 🙂

      A third, then, is being Present in the Experience of Now (the state I suggest in the story) which suggests a fourth which leads to another and another… there are as many possibilities of Living Now as one can imagine, though I suspect no one who ever lived has gone much farther than the fourth 🙂

      Please forgive my lack of a definitive (or even comprehensible) language when addressing this. My beliefs and practices do not come from a single source but have been learned through years of personal experience defined after the fact, or for clarity, by finding reference in existing philosophies and religions. That is to say; there is no current language for what I address. Probably never will be since it would be like attempting to assign a language to Huxley’s “Perennial Philosophy” (something he did attempt at the cost of his sanity as far as I’m concerned lol) or cross compatible terminology for the mass of religions in Frazer’s “Golden Bough”. I will try anyway.

      So I write these stories from my experience without bogging down the reader with non-existing terminology in such a way that interpretation is the natural byproduct and questions are raised and not always answered because it is in asking the questions that we find the answers as they apply to us.

      That being said, this story is more about living mindfully and how it is natural and even okay to struggle with it (though I’m still waiting to see if anyone caught the reference to Brown Dog as a metaphor for how we do it so easily and without thinking for those we love lol). I just threw in the alternate form of Now to raise eyebrows 😉

      I may have to cut and paste this reply (with some edits) for another article lol … though I should probably wait until I have a better idea of the language to use.

      • Words fail me to discribe the experience when I am completely emerged in the now and connected to all that is. I can only leave guideposts of words to then let others imagine and be inspired to try it for themselves. The feeling of being connected to all that is , is pure bliss. One can only awaken in the now-but it takes time to be fully awake in all situations. Often we find ourselves being pulled back into old conditioned reactive patterns, particularly when we are faced with challenges of daily living and of relationships. When this happens we lose the witnessing presence and then become identified with “thoughts” that continuously stream through your mind with labeling, judgment and options. One no longer recognizes this state and so it creates conflict and suffering and this suffering wakes you up again in the now. Until presence in the now becomes your predominant state, you will visilate between mind identification and presence in the now. If you ask “how long does it take” is not a good question to ask because it makes you lose the now.
        These things I know for sure: we must realize deeply that all there is that is real is this moment;
        Love is not selective, just as the light of the sun is not selective; time is not precious, because it is just an illusion. Some of my guide posts to understanding of being present in the now!

  3. While I am able to maintain that presence in the Now I don’t mind those excursions into, and interruptions from, those inner places where these thoughts exist because I don’t believe we are intended to simply ignore them but to learn from them. They are as much guideposts as those places we blaze with stillness and acceptance.

    The things I always keep in mind are the stories of the Buddha and his encounters with Mara. If he could be tempted and misled by his internal discourse those thoughts then, certainly, it’s to be expected from the rest of us.

    Like the Buddha, I set tea for Mara and then expel her from my home when she lingers too long.

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