Monday, April 23, 2012

A Random Walk down Life's Path

The path down by the river is blossoming with flowers. There are tulips, and forsythia, and hibiscuses and irises and even daffodils. They cluster close to the shore. The water flows gently creating small eddies, but gentle enough for lily pads to find a home. The swirls are gentle and occur near the banks from the jutting rocks embedded there. All in all it is beautiful and inherently peaceful. There is something about springtime when love is in the air and everyone joyous for the renewal.

A pregnant young woman walked with effort carrying the weight of her baby. As I walked past her the river stretched out ahead to the horizon.

The mother was carrying a young child, who was sneezing away in rapid fire, ten at a time. His eyes were swollen and red and his cheeks colored similarly. He rested his beautiful blonde face on her shoulder, uncomfortable in his misery. The mother was unhurried in her measured steps. The world was ticking the clock at its usual pace of one second at a time. I hurried my steps to get closer to the child, just to see his facial features and lo and behold, minutes later as I caught up to them, the child’s face was turning the pink color of youthful exuberance, his face now, no longer resting on his mother’s shoulder was involved with the fascinating view of the world. He was taking in the world as it opened to him, a carnival of wonders. His eyes seem brighter and the tiny dimple on his right cheek made quite a beautiful statement.

The river depth increased as the colors darkened many shades and the water appeared to be stilled. The overhang of the large deciduous trees cast a reflection on the glassy waters below. There was a young couple walking alongside, further ahead. The girl’s head rested on her boyfriend’s shoulder. Both had tattoos on their neck and arms covering most of the skin. But they were happy. A trail of smoke lingered behind them. The musty unfamiliar aroma permeated the environs. They had identical physiques, both were extremely thin with bony islands and ridges pressing against the skimpy clothes they wore. The boy would stop periodically and cough a deep cough that would deplete his energies making him bend over at the waist. The girl would stop next to him, wait for his spasm to dissipate, look away from him through his moment of angst, as if the momentary rift in the silence from the cough was a space with no time dimension.

The path was winding around a bend and the lush of the cherry blossoms and the azaleas, now met the eye. The river was aglow with the colors of the blossoms. There were birds in the air, chirping in their flight, butterflies hovering in their rapid perceived eccentric movement, as their beautiful colored wings reflected the sunlight and families were spread over large blankets on the green grass nearby frolicking under the wide blue canopy. 

There was cheer and squeals of delight that echoed. A couple walked ahead with a child in tow. The man walked with his shoulders slumped as the animated wife full of sound and fury seem to signify something and the little boy covered his ears to the harsh sounds. Occasionally the man spoke in a deep baritone that sparked more intensity into the conversation. Differing uncompromising spoken words were the battle cries that burdened the shoulders of the little person, whose angst could not be shielded by his hands. 

The banks of the river now spread out a little ways as the river split around a large outcrop of rock. The water, splashed gently around the rocks and in places it overflowed the banks just a little. There were tiny offshoots of green grass and thick green moss that covered the rocks and stones that made the banks now. The lush of the trees seemed to dissipate a little while the green grassy knolls that surrounded the river rollicked into the horizon. The openness was breathtaking and the vistas far and wide. 

A middle-aged couple walked hand in hand. The comforts of their life held together in the interlocking fingers. Unbeknownst to them they remained in lockstep with each other. The sway of the hip and the thump of the foot on the ground were indistinguishable. They shared the environs without a word exchanged between them. Periodically he would look at her and smile and she did the same. The world was their oyster and all their angels sang in harmony.

The river water seemed to flow at a faster pace and the eddies grew deeper making large whorls in the middle of the flow. The waves, previously nonexistent now seem to roll over each other, displaying an increase in angst and intensity. There was turmoil brewing the farther, I walked. The beautiful and lush growth seemed to distance itself from the shores and more rubble and wet sediment was ahead of me. I had to cast an eye at each step as I walked. The hardness and definite ground below gave way to the muddy, shifting earth that had more give and slip. The trees on the riverside stood erect and their leaves thinning at the bottom cast very little shadow, much less a reflection that the rushing waters failed to reflect. Few flowers bloomed here.

An older gentleman walked farther ahead and to the side. He was in a contemplative mood. His shuffling gait and the slow progress determined the infirmity of the physical and the anguish of the non-physical. There was a tangent of unexpressed emotions all repressed in that weak shuffle, limited, restricted, uncomfortable and lonely. Time had passed by in the blink of an eye. The world had changed and so had he. He seemed to be slowly giving way to the people in the fast lane, and yet not conceding so quickly as was his right.  The river seemed to move haltingly bubbling in places and heaving across boulders, a foamy collection here and an uprooted tree trunk there. There was a confluence of hardship and comfort all locked into this tiny space of where the solid of the land and the ethereal of the water displaced time. The winter would be here soon.

And just as broken and ravaged the scenery became, the river seemed to overtake it and find itself a drop. The sound of the fall, the rush of that sound and the abruptness of it all were equally breathtaking. The hiss that turned into a roar, the rise of the mist above and the rainbow of colors that sprouted from within the mist as the sun broke through each drop of moisture marked the culmination of a journey.

I stepped down towards the bottom and found a large pool of water that was as deep as it was wide. It had a dark blue color and looking up back at the mouth of the fall and seeing the crashing waterfall, all seemed surreal. There was no turning back for the water, it had to fall and dig deep into the pool and bounce through and merge. 

This was the undiscovered country from which there was no return back to the higher ground. This was the resting place. On one side, a grey white boulder lay marking one side of the pool and beyond that was a headstone where a raven stood guarding its territory. On the headstone was inscribed:

RIP. Here lie the dreams and ambitions of man

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