The River’s Still Flowing

Channels never get depressed, right? Oracles never wonder or worry or wish things felt better than they do. Believe that and I’ve got a rainbow bridge to sell you . . .

Discouragement seems to be part of the human journey. As a poet on the mystic’s path I used to think that melancholia was just grist for the word mill. Whoever heard of a perky poet? Not that I really ever needed to be concerned about that.

But if we can’t or perhaps don’t even want to fully escape sorrow or grief or discouragement or wistfulness or longing, what is our best hope for managing those feelings instead of being at the mercy of them?

I asked the Shower Team: “What about the bluer shades of emotion? How can joy lead us when we are sitting in the middle of grief or despair –or even when we are reaching for comfort for those swimming in sorrow?”

The river that is your joy or zest or passion or peace of mind never stops flowing. It does not depend upon anyone or anything and its flow is eternally uninterrupted. There is no dam you can build that is big or wide or strong enough to hold it back for very long. You or anyone else can sit beside that river, refusing to dip so much as a toe in the water. You can sit on the bank of that river with your head in your hands, refusing to see it or with your hands over your ears refusing to hear it . . . but the river still flows.

There is never a time or a circumstance or a condition where you do not have access to this knowledge. It is always within your capability to turn and see the river flowing, to hear that rush of the current of joy moving, and to decide to place yourself in it and let it carry you or to stand where you are, refusing to budge . . . but even then, eventually the river will overtake you. It will move outside its banks and sweep you downstream no matter how much you resist or run from it.

When you or someone you love sits there, refusing to see or experience that river flowing, remember that you know better. Remember that the river is there. Remember that no matter how insistent you or your loved one may be about not getting into the water and moving with it, the knowledge of the river is still yours. Also important to remember is that the river never refuses or reprimands you. There never is and never will be a time when you decide to return to that flow when the river will dry up on you and say, “Too bad—you waited too long and now it’s too late.” Or “You should have jumped in days or weeks or months ago and now you’ll just have to sit there and suffer until we say it’s okay to get back in.” You may blame or punish yourself—and often do—for your own reluctance or refusal to rejoin the flow but the flow never judges you or resists you or does anything but welcome you back when you are ready.

If you are reaching to comfort another or for comfort for yourself, let your knowledge of the river be what you are offering even if it is not spoken. Let yourself know—even if you or someone you are comforting cannot feel it in that moment that Well Being flows to and through you and/or them. Let yourself know that in any moment, even as you weep, even as you rage, even as you give your attention exclusively to some loss that you have experienced or some deeply held desire that you have not experienced yet, that the river still flows, still beckons, still offers a sweet, lovely, gentle ride to joy. You can jump in any time—as tentatively or as eagerly, as gradually or as swiftly, as smoothly or as awkwardly, as primly or as wildly as you choose.

I may still be standing back from the rope swinging out over the lake or hesitating at the base of the diving board . . . but I can hear the water moving . . . Even if I need to sit here on the rocks a little longer, letting myself feel the harder edges and the colder surface . . . somehow knowing the river waits . . . hearing it out there . . . takes some of the edge off whatever it is I’m focusing on right here and now. And it lets me breathe a little easier, a little calmer . . . and it leaves me feeling—if only just a little—more encouraged, more optimistic, and more complete.


About Dan

Published novelist, poet, essayist, copywriter, photographer and college educator. Visit me at

Posted on May 14, 2007, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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