In the midst of a journey, a traveler comes upon a deep river. To cross it, he constructs a raft from branches, twigs and vines. If the vessel is river-worthy, he successfully reaches the other shore.
A teacher presenting this story to his students then asks: “Should the traveler then carry his raft through the forest as he continues on his way?”
“No”, the students respond. “He should leave the raft behind. It has served its purpose and would now become only a burden.”
We might use the story of this raft as a metaphor for the way in which we assemble materials during our life journey. These materials, of course, are not branches, twigs and vines. The materials that shape our lives include thoughts, ideas, images, rituals, habits and experiences, among others.
There comes a point when we begin to deconstruct or simplify our lives. In short, we may find that certain lessons, opinions, or judgments are no longer nourishing. We leave them behind on the shore. Surprisingly, we feel neither scarcity nor loss. We feel freedom, ease and acceptance.
In the words of Rilke*:
How surely gravity’s law
Strong as an ocean current,
Takes hold of even the strongest thing
And pulls it toward the heart of the world.
Each thing—each stone, blossom, child—is held in place.
Only we, in our arrogance,
Push out beyond what we belong to
For some empty freedom.
If we surrendered to Earth’s intelligence
We could rise up, rooted, like trees—
This is what the things teach us: to fall,
Patiently to trust our heaviness.
Even a bird has to do that
Before he can fly.
*Rilke, Rainer Maria (1996). Rilke’s Book of Hours: love poems to God. Riverhead
Thank you Betsy
Beautiful reflection, Betsy! Thank you.
Wonderful reflection, Betsy! Thank you!
Beautiful! Thank you!