River was raging. Angry, sour, frustrated and furious at eh banks that hemmed her in and kept her under control.
She knew she hadn’t always been this way. She remembered when she was just a spring, a simple trickle of sweet sparkling goodness bursting out of the ground and racing away down the mountainside. She had loved life as a trickle; she rushed hither and thither, bouncing over rocky ground, hitting boulders and changing direction, spreading out and sneaking through tiny gaps in the rocks and growing growing always growing.
As she grew, she was joined by other tiny little trickles of water, they themselves racing to find the sea, that utopia of wonder that lay somewhere off on the horizon. they played together incessantly until they grew into real streams and passed through fields and gardens on their way down the hillside.
The best times were in the early Spring, when rain fell and filled their bellies making them strong and mighty and they pretended to be ‘big rivers’ and carved holes into the loamy soil beneath the rocks, feeling powerful and strong.
More time passed and summer came, and much of the water found itself drawn back into the ground, but Little River fought hard to resist the pull of the dry, hard riverbed below her, and she jumped shouting ‘You can’t catch me’ and raced away down the hillside.
But childhood cannot last forever and before she knew it, River found herself being pushed and pulled by ever-strong banks. They grew up high all around her, forcing her to follow their course, and whenever she tried to go her own way, she found herself at a dead end, her way blocked by fallen trees or man made cement, and she had only to swirl about her and make her way back to the river bed and allow herself to be pushed onward.
River hated the banks. They were full of weeds and snooty creatures which tried to drink her, grab her and stamp their way through her. She hated them all and, when next the rains came, she decided to pay them back by spreading herself all across their home, and she laughed as the cows mooed sadly, stranded as they were on a little patch of high ground, whilst she circled them menacingly, daring them to try to cross.
It wasn’t long though, before grandfather sun came out and urged the river back where it belonged, and offered some respite to the poor drowned creatures of the meadows.’See you next year’ crowed River and she receded and continued her journey toward the sea.
‘I knew the sea was a world away,’ she moaned, ‘but I didn’t know the journey would be this boring’ and she glared at he high banks which held her firmly in their grip, forcing her onward, allowing her only the rarest of meanders where she could change her view and see something new.
Ad time passed she grew and matured, her belly filled with fish and small boats made their way up and down her and she grew accustomed to a slower pace of life, but still, a deep seated resentment filled her mind and she held a grudge against those dratted banks, now pathways filled with people, which kept her contained, controlled and forced her hand.
She watched the gulls flying overhead and began to taste salt in the air. Almost without realising it she had made it. She had found her voice. Here was the sea and her mouth was open wide and releasing all the pent up frustration she had held in for so long.
But what was this? The watery world before her was endless, it made no sense! She was scared, she didn’t want to go, she wanted to go back and she turned in furious circles as she met with other tributaries, cousins who had made the journey from across the lands. Together they swirled in fear yet nothing could prevent the tug and pull of the ocean and before long she was drawn out, away from the banks, away from the land, away from the snooty animals and the noisy boats and set adrift, heading to who knows where?
It was only as she settled herself into her new life that she could look back and see the fullness of the mountain behind her. She could see the topmost tip where she had been born, and as she gazed endlessly at the world,(as the sea is wont to do) she noticed something else.
She was so struck by her observation that she began to cry and her salt water tears were washed away by a shoal of silver fish that came to soothe her. ‘Tell us why you are crying River-Sea?’ As they darted this way and that in a attempt to make her laugh.
‘Oh little fish, you little silver sprats that have known nothing of the world, only your school and your sea, I have been so foolish and wasted my life’s journey and I am so sad that I made such a mistake.
The little fish were confused, ‘What mistake could you possibly have made?’ they asked, askance. When you are The Sea and the source of all life?’ And the sea only cried harder as she realised the enormity of her mistake.
‘Oh little fish, if only i could go back to the beginning and start again, I would not be so angry at he river banks. I would not sulk and moan and try to flood the fields, for now I realise that the banks were never trying to contain me at all, that was just he way I felt. Indeed, it was my own power and determination over lifetimes which had crated those banks in the first place, and they were were there because of me, not in spite of me. Oh what a stupid River I have been.’ And she wept and wept and filled the ocean with tears of a thousand years, wishing beyond hope that she could only start again and this time live a grateful life, rather than an angry one.
How did I not realise how strong and powerful I truly was, she wondered, looking about her, feeling deep in her self that she owned the whole world, aware that she was touching every part of every place with her watery self and that she was indeed, the fountain of life, and could never be contained.
At that moment the sun came out from behind the clouds and shone hot and bright onto the wide wide ocean and in an instant lifted the steam from her back, to be carried away as a white fluffy cloud toward the top of the mountain.
And River-Sea smiled and knew it all and how it ends, or rather understood at last, that it never will.