I love rivers.
With all respect to ponds, pools, lakes, and oceans, I love being by a river the most. Landlocked on two sides, it’s still a continuum of water that chuckles as it moves and brings down the heat in summer. My rivers are peaceful most of the time but the last thing they are is boring, not only because they hold so much life but they seem to be living creatures themselves. I guess I see life as a river.
More than anything, all rivers are made up of water, great googolplexes of H2O molecules, all moving in the same direction. Some of the droplets came up from underground springs, some fell into place with a rainfall, but the source isn’t what’s important here. What’s important is that once those droplets meet up it’s hard to tell one from another and they impact each other. It may be on a scale too small for us to see but the molecules of water bump against each other on the way to their common destination. And each encounter changes the path of each droplet, however minutely.
I think all life is like that. Our lives are continually changed every day by the other life we encounter. It could be the homeless person we cross the street to avoid or the new friend we make at the market. It could even be the virus that keeps us out of work or school but our lives and fates are changed on a daily basis by who and what we encounter. And our actions bounce off someone else, altering their path in unexpected ways. This perpetual ricochet is as much a part of every molecule’s journey as the forward momentum of the current, pulling it onward to its destination.
I felt that reaction that as I watched our new kitten, Steve this week. We got Steve to be our Charlie-cat’s companion, shortly before Charlie died. The sad morning after Charlie’s burial, Stevie jumped in the bathtub to chase the water as it ran down the drain. When the tub was empty he turned to me and meowed, clearly curious about where the bath water went. Up until that time, I had almost resented this new kitten’s dynamic presence, because he wasn’t Charlie and couldn’t make Charlie well. It was then I realized, as much as I’d always miss Charlie-Belle, Stevie had something of his own to offer. Steve looks at the world with inexperienced eyes, marveling over things Charlie and I had long since taken for granted. And, seeing the world through Stevie’s eyes makes it new again for me.
And now we have a second pet, Mollie-dog in the house. As Charlie needed a four-legged friend, Stevie needs one too and Mollie-dog looks like a good match. Bigger but gentler than Stevie-Cat, Mollie loves squeeky toys, my Jeep and jumping onto our bed. For however long we have these two, I think they’ll be fine companions.
That’s what we all are: companions on our journeys through life, like waterdrops caught in the current. We go at different rates, encounter different things but we’re still parts of the River of Life. And someday, we’ll all reach the Sea.