Across from my hotel, a small river flows by. It is a river, insists the hotel manager, although it looks more like a stream to me. I believe him and feel saddened by the visibly depleting ravages of climate change.
The river is beautiful, nestled amidst rolling waves of lush green tea plantations. Clear water gurgles happily, undaunted by the big brown boulders that squat in its way. These ancient rocks are misshapen, awkwardly elongated here, abruptly cracked there. No matter. They stand firm, formidable in their form and with no signs of relenting.
It is the river that adjusts. With each encounter, it changes from a clear, calm surface to a spirited white froth, energetically tumbling through as if its life depended on it. It dances around the block as it lands, much in the same way as puppies play around an unmoved mother. It doesn’t linger; it moves forward and settles into a calmer flow until it meets another rock, this time a smaller one. It washes over it, giving it a makeshift pair of floppy ears. Water sprays everywhere.
This is the way of the river. It keeps changing direction, shifting form, slowing down or racing forward, one barrier after another. It never stops . From this, the combination of the water, the boulders, everything, emerges an unexpected beauty. The unity, in all its imperfections, is what becomes the magnificent river.
It’s no surprise that the river has been a source of inspiration for many across the ages. Herman Hesse’s Sidhartha relied on it to convey the ultimate truth about life and happiness. I can see why. There are many profound lessons hidden in the river if only one stops to experience them.
This particular river, flowing through Munnar, made me think, how often do we look at obstacles as supportive rather than hindering to our performance? The typical reaction is to groan and complain about how much harder it now is to achieve our goal. Rarely do we consider that the new development can allow a hidden facet to emerge, and that these new facets add a lustre that was not possible before.
What’s more, the river takes many forms. At times, it is quiet, slow, flat. At others, it is a raging bull, surging forward with a forceful, passionate energy. Is one better than the other? They both have a reason.
In Nature, as in life, things are messy. People don’t behave the way we expect them to, events don’t occur according to the timeline we have designed, and accidents take place at an ironic regularity. Instead of chafing against the messiness, it seems the idea is to flow with it.