“Dear man, don’t hesitate... just hold on to me and save your life!
I understand that you did not want your life to be saved in the first place... and that you wanted to end it all, when you plunged into these waters. But then our lives are not always about what we plan, but what we end up doing. No amount of planning can change the effect of an action that we finally take. This cool deep water made all your plans go waste and now you are struggling to save the same life that you wanted to end, merely some seconds back.
Don’t bother about what your plans were... consider what you now think is right. I can see that you want to continue the journey of life and not end it here and now. After all, who knows better than me; who has come this far and am still struggling to continue with the journey.
Stop struggling now. Your struggle will only pull us both down and delay our journey... Just relax and hold on to me. Let the current carry us gently. Remember, you chose to give up what you had. So, why struggle to return there, at the very first adverse effect? Instead, enjoy the drift and make the most of new destination.
Yes, now that is much better. See, as soon as you stopped the struggle it became easier for you, me and the water. Look around; how calm the water has turned and how slowly and steadily we are progressing! I promise to keep you afloat till you reach safety; only if you don’t stop my own journey by pulling me down.
Remember a journey is all about the very process of moving towards the destination, and not about the destination itself or its purpose. Sometimes, we all forget this and confuse ourselves. We mix the purpose or destination of the journey with the journey itself, and forget to enjoy the journey. Thus we neither enjoy/complete the journey nor reach the destination, and as a consequence even fail in our ultimate purpose!
I won’t ask you what made you to take that ultimate step; of giving up the very journey of your own life. We all have our reasons. Only thing that we are not sure is whether those reasons would be good enough to justify the action or inaction in the future. I see that your reasons didn’t stand the test of time, even for 5 minutes, so that you wanted to abandon your chosen path and chart a new course.
Only to keep you off your awful memories and to keep your spirits up, while we are at this journey together, let me tell you my story... the story of my journey. I am sure you must have heard that old saying, “Wise learn by the mistake of others and normal learn from their own; but fools never learn”. You look at least a normal one to me. Who knows, when I share my story you might even pick one or two lessons up from it and that could help you in continuing your own journey!
So, here I am today... on my way to the distant ocean. I have dreamt all my life to be there, in the ocean; and to end my existence by merging into that vastness. As you might already know even I was not born in these waters. The earliest time I can remember, I was a small sapling with full of green leaves, on the bank of this very river, but much farther upstream. The goats that came to river to drink water used to come and eat up my tender leaves that it was a miracle for me to have survived. Then I grew and those same goats now found shade, under my rich foliage, to relax in the afternoon sun.
Time flew and I started flowering and growing sweet little fruits. That was the time when birds and squirrels discovered me. Thereafter, till the very end, I was more of a colony than a mere tree for them; as they came, nested and feasted on me. With all the chaos and noises of vibrant life, I couldn’t have asked for more!
The life went on... but my eyes were set on this journey.... I wondered day and night about the currents that were rushing downstream, in their quest for the ocean, making all those happy noises all the time. I wondered how nice it would be to surrender myself in those currents and be a part of the great journey until I reach the ocean.
As I grew old, I didn’t feel bad about it. I knew aging is taking me closer to my dream journey. One day, I will, like all the other trees, get uprooted and fall. I could already see the new saplings that were coming up around me, getting impatient to reach out for the sun. On my part, I did my best to shift my weight and my branches towards the river so that those saplings got some sunshine and also that when the ultimate fall came I would end up in the river.
At the end, I indeed did fall into the river. It was a night with heavy rains lashing down on all of us. The currents got happier and noisier and started dancing wildly, though not stopping for even a second. Those very same roots that held me firmly to the earth for all those decades suddenly gave up and I fell into the water with a thunderous sound... It was a dream come true to me; the only regret being the two squirrels and some eggs, of those little birds, that fell into the river.
I was now, after all these decades, moving with the very currents that I always envied, to the very same ocean that I always dreamt.
But alas, as you might already know, life or journey is not complete without hindrances. I had my fair share too. The very next day, as the sun came up in the morning, I heard shouts from the river bank. I saw the excited human beings gesticulating at me and soon some of them jumped into the water and swam towards me. They managed to stop me from going further and then slowly pulled me to the shore. They started cutting me into small pieces and carrying them away....
I was completely devastated. Yesterday, I was proudly standing up with my branches lording over the forest and the river; then I was happy that I fell into the river and started my journey. Now, all my pride and happiness were gone. To see myself being turned into those lifeless little pieces was too bad that I even forgot about the journey.
But such is the fate that, when I, the latest piece to be carried away to the shore, fell from the shoulders of those humans, into the water, and a strong current pulled me away, they did not pursue pulling me back. Perhaps they were happy with the catch early in the morning, so that no more efforts were considered necessary for such a small piece of wood like me. Well, look at the irony- that same ‘such a small piece’ is large enough to save your life today, my friend. And believe me; I have no hard feelings towards you even though you too are a human being. I have been too long in this water, in my onward journey to ocean, to have any such ill feelings left in me.
Even after that narrow escape my journey was not free from hindrances, my friend. I think it is the law of nature to place obstacles at each stage of a journey to test the tenacity of the traveller. I faced multitude of dangers all along the way - sometimes I thought I will sink when I got caught in the whirlpools; some other times, I got lodged against the river bank or got moored on a sandbar. Each time, I somehow happened to escape and continued with my journey.
But then I realised; the danger was not merely from outside forces. While I continued my journey in the water, for weeks and months, I began to rot from inside. It took all the resolve to reach my destination, to fortify myself from the rot that has set inside me.
While I was experiencing all these so called setbacks, my friend, never once I considered giving up my journey. I knew by the time I reach the ocean, my destination; I will be at the very fag end of my existence and will soon be consumed by whatever forces. I never considered what purpose my journey would serve ultimately. For me, as I already said, the journey was about destination and not about purpose.
Now you know at least some of our experiences match, if not in form at least in substance, don’t you?
I am sure; you too must have got lodged against the banks of your own feelings, attachments and relationships? Did you surrender yourself to those attachments?
Did you get moored on the sandbars of your own ego and prestige, not allowing you to make the movement forward? Did your own self doubts and fear of failure hold you back from pursuing your goal?
Or did you get caught in the whirlpools of never ending greed and desire? Where you entangled in money, fame, sex, love or any other uncontrolled sensual desires?
Did you ever get lifted out of the water, by your association with people of poor character or organisations of retrograde ideologies? Giving up your own journey and being controlled by those external evil forces?
Or was it that you were rotting like me inside, from your own self deception? Where you not being true to yourself and your journey, that you had to try abruptly ending the very journey?
Well I don’t want you to answer, my friend. I only want you to know that you are not alone; we all go through such obstacles trying to stop us in our tracks. I only want you to keep believing in yourself and keep the focus on your journey.
Water is shallow here, my friend. It is time for you to leave me alone in my journey. Go back and continue yours... I am sure; we will all reach our destinations.”
Note: This story is inspired by teachings of Buddha... who continues to fascinate me by the pearls of wisdom that he left for us, centuries ago.