The River

 

When the sun hit the mountain peak, the snow melted. The water collected in one place and started to flow down the mountain. The water only knew one thing. It knew that it had to go down hill.

The mountain asked the water, "where are you going?"

The water, which had by now formed into a river, said, "to my mother, the ocean."

The mountain laughed and said, "you will never get there. Do you know how far the ocean is? I know because I can see the ocean from here. You will evaporate and dry up before you ever get to the ocean."

The river said, "maybe that is true. I don’t know how far the ocean is, but I only know one thing. I must flow downhill. Because flowing downhill is the right thing for a river to do, and I must do the right thing because it is the right thing to do, even if I never get to the ocean."

The mountain laughed and let the river flow downhill. A little later, the river was stopped by a bolder. The bolder asked the river, "where do you think you are going?"

The river replied, "to my mother, the ocean."

The bolder laughed and said, "you will never get there. Do you know how far the ocean is? I know because the mountain told me. Besides, I will stop you here until you evaporate and dry up before you ever get to the ocean."

The river said, "maybe you can trap me here and maybe I don’t know how far the ocean is, but I only know one thing. I must flow downhill. Because flowing downhill is the right thing for a river to do, and I must do the right thing because it is the right thing to do, even if I never get to the ocean."

The bolder laughed and held the river back. But the river persisted and gathered together behind the bolder until it managed to grow tall enough and flow over the bolder downhill. A little later, the river came to a cliff. The cliff asked the river, "where do you think you are going?"

The river replied, "to my mother, the ocean."

The cliff laughed and said, "you will never get there. Do you know how far the ocean is? I know because it will take you forever to trickle down my side, unless you are willing to jump off and then who knows what will happen to you. As a waterfall, you may evaporate and dry up before you ever get to the ocean."

The river said, "maybe that is true. I don’t know if I will survive the fall of a waterfall, but I only know one thing. I must flow downhill. Because flowing downhill is the right thing for a river to do, and I must do the right thing because it is the right thing to do, even if I never get to the ocean."

The cliff laughed and let the river jump off of it and form a beautiful waterfall. A little later, the river was strolling slowly in the flat pastures. The pasture asked the river, "where do you think you are going?"

The river replied, "to my mother, the ocean."

The pasture laughed and said, "you will never get there. Do you know how far the ocean is? I know because it will take you forever to wind your way down my length. You will evaporate and dry up before you ever get to the ocean."

The river said, "maybe that is true. I don’t know if I will survive the long winding distance that I have to travel along your length, but I only know one thing. I must flow downhill, no matter how shallow that slope is. Because flowing downhill is the right thing for a river to do, and I must do the right thing because it is the right thing to do, even if I never get to the ocean."

The pasture laughed and as if it had all the time in the world to watch the river, it let the river slowly wind its way along its length. A long time later, the river was strolling its way slowly to the end of the flat pastures. And finally it reached its mother, the ocean.

The ocean embraced the river, gave it a big hug and asked it about its journey from the mountaintop. When the river told its mother all that happened, its mother smiled and said, "very good. You had carried a very big truth in your heart. If you keep on doing what is right, only because it is the right thing to do, not only you will have a happy journey in your life, but also you will receive all the rewards that you can think of."

Shahriar Shahriari
Vancouver Canada
August 12, 1998


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