Today I take my inspiration from Joyce Hifler. From a book titled “All Rivers Run To The Seas”. I love to start off the day mulling over Hifler’s thoughts and I love to share them. Coffee at the ready!
She wrote, “Rivers, like people, carry responsibilities according to their inner size. It is not always possible to tell by looking at a river how deep it is. There are hints of shallow places, but there are also hidden depths, ( And so it is with people.) Henry Van Dyke said, “The life of a river, like that of a human being, consists in the union of soul and body, the water and the banks. They belong together. They act and react upon each other.”___The river is the life-stream of the land. It takes its moisture from the air, flows to the sea, and returns to the air. The cycle is endless, the similarity to man is unique. Within him is a life-stream that circulates again and again to renew his life.____There is a constant flow of life, a never-ending cycle that has no beginning and no ending. “All rivers run to the sea is not full___” (Not a full situation or reality. There is much more to how we live life and evolve as humans.)
Each part of life is but a little cycle or a large cycle according to importance. We learn and learn, and yet we cannot know it all. We love and love, and yet we cannot love enough. But we were granted something extra. We were given the ability to think. As life follows cycle after cycle, we are not programmed to instinct nor do we follow the route of less resistance like the river, but with each spiraling cycle we can come up higher.”
“Rivers, like people carry responsibilities according to their inner size. It is not always possible to tell by looking at a river how deep it is. There are hints of shallow places, but there are also hidden depths____” Responsibilities are carried along during each age and stage of life, and those responsibilities evolve as we age and their depths change. Children do not have the same kind of responsibilities as do their parents. The choices we make are a part of the responsibilities we take on. To sort out such responsibilities we rely on what’s contained in our brain; all which we examined, and draw from. Some ideas come from books which influence us. Imagine how your parents were influenced by what they read. Was it a part of your early play? Books are full of ways to be responsible! Think of how a favorite character solved his imagined life. I remember Treasure Island, Sinbad the Sailor, Robin Crusoe, Peter Pan. One fine example is Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. What of Mo’s responsibility towards Meggie? He was extremely concerned for her welfare as a father. He wanted to protect her, and when he felt he had failed Meggie? This may be a book for teens but are so worthwhile as an adventure!
“The life of a river, like that of a human being, consists in the union of soul and body, the water and the banks. They belong together. They act and react upon each other.” The life of our rivers is in what we think and feel, what our brains make out of what we take in, there is a union of soul and body when we feel “Yes! I got it! Or Yes! I still got it! When all is well out of a moment in time when we stop to pay attention to sell. A good book sets off such a moment as can a painting, poem, and if we take the time to express our own thoughts to others. It feels good! The world is full of what influences all of us!
Like the river banks, we contain what these concluded responsibilities are that we can make sense of them. Like the water that flows between the banks what is contained flows through in its own time frame as with gentle waters or as much faster flowing waters. All run to the sea where they collect into vast collective responsibility for other human beings to draw upon. Writers do talk of having a responsibility towards their readers. Poets do, it is not a selfish thing to write, it is a giving up of information, of experience, and more.
I was quite young when I discovered how to find meaning and to fortify thoughts. It is such thoughts that raise us higher and makes life richer. The older generation often spoke of “pearls of wisdom.”
Books, the written words, the author’s gift to make us think. Has not something you read found you nodding your head? Made you smile? Set your mind on thinking about that particular topic? Have you ever said, “I wish I had said that!” Or perhaps you have found a way to say “it” because you agreed with “that” particular thing? Perhaps you have shared something you read because it was said in a way that echoed your very thoughts? All are very likely! AKA the term “food for thought!” At heart we are philosophers.
I was very lucky as a child because I had a great, older English teacher who artfully fostered reading and writing “storytelling”. She would read to us during recess on rainy days when they did not send us outdoors. Hooked on her ability to bring books to life we begged her to do so even on sunny days such as our love of her abilities. We hoped for rainy days just to stay in and hear her read. Imagine 3rd and 4rth graders all crowded around their teacher jumping up and down on toes, and loudly begging to be read to. I hope she felt well-loved by us. She would also impart upon us the art and importance of how to read books well. (There are good readers and bad readers, anyone listening to audio books can attest to this fact.)
Later in life, I would read to Thomas in this same way with wine and cheese some crackers and cheese for him mostly. Wine for me to wet my mouth a bit. This is a very pleasant way to spend an evening. Reading improves the more you do it. Often we would discuss the books after, laughing and getting into great discussions! Books like The Lord Of The Rings, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, etc.
I think this teacher’s impact taught all of us the love of books and to have a great curiosity about the meanings of words and how they could be used. Words have a history behind them, as they evolve. I think we were asking her the meanings of words and were told to write them down as we heard them or read them than to look them up. So at a young age, I began my journey into books, seeing them as treasures; and loving their words.
I loved books destined for older hands other than mine back then. The old house my parents had chosen to move into had big overhead chambers with what I saw to be full of hidden possibilities. I saw them one day when following my mother, and snuck back later. These were my secret. It would be later that Mom learned of my behavior. She was going to throw them out or give them away, and suddenly I cried and begged to have them! Much to her surprise! When I first saw them; to me, they had seemed lonely and it was as if no one else wanted them, after all, they had left them behind! But I did! I coveted these, claiming them as mine. Several I would learn later on were classics of their time.
During recess, we could walk to the library from school and so I would fib to the librarian saying I was getting books for my mother. I think she knew. I may have not understood every aspect of some books but I did come to understand a great deal because that is how the mind works. Spending time with books, looking up words you may not know is worthwhile. Books gave me a vocabulary and ways in which to express my thoughts.
Henry Van Dyke, “The life of a river, like that of a human being, consists in the union of soul and body, the water and the banks. They belong together. They act and react upon each other.” A life where there is no encouragement to think is a poor one. We however do need to dicern what is worthwhile, will enrich us, and give us hope in life and humanity. If we can not find the words to express what is near and dear to us, we will find them in books. Look for the treasures the enrich the soul.
I wish to add a bit more here. “Man’s life is a river.” When Hifler’s books were written in the 1970s it was still common to use the word man, which was meant as mankind as well. The way words man and mankind evolved from their gender-neutral status became a debatable shift when I was in high school. Some feel like it leaves women out of the meaning to use the word man or mankind but that was not the original train of thinking. The shift to humankind it was felt speaks of both men and women. I can not change what is written, and do hope that if anyone feels Hiflers words make less of women that they might read the following, it will explain the evolution of the words and thoughts around them. The word ‘man’ was “originally gender-neutral, meaning more or less the same as the modern-day word “person”. It wasn’t until about a thousand years ago that the word “man” started to refer to a male and it wasn’t until the late 20th century that it was almost exclusively used to refer to males.”
http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2010/08/the-word-man-was-originally-gender-neutral/ There is interesting arguments that follow. Not unlike the ones given way back when.