Out and About

The secret of the river

I went to my first celebration of life (funeral) since coronavirus ushered in this “new normal.” When my friend died this summer, I wondered what the family would do to remember Curt’s life and to say farewell. So many families have opted to limit funeral services to just family and close friends. I hate this new normal!

The celebration of life and spreading of ashes was held at Curt’s family home on the Paint Rock River in Marshall County. Attendees adhered to the CDC’s coronavirus guidelines per family wishes. Curt’s passing was this summer, but the service was postponed with hope that things would be better later in the year. Alabama’s pandemic situation had not improved, but the celebration was scheduled anyway. The family wanted it. Friends were hoping for it. Curt and I had been river pals for a long time. He loved his river. I had to go for him, the family, and particularly myself.

It was a wonderful celebration. It was obvious those there really wanted to be there even though socially distancing and wearing masks were necessary. There were others in attendance on a big computer screen in ZOOM fashion. (No doubt you have or know about ZOOM meetings, another adaptation to the “new normal.”)

Some stories could have been embarrassing for ole Curt, but true – like truth told at the Thanksgiving table. Some testimonials started with a little melancholy, but often ended in laughter. The celebration was held on the river bank because Curt loved his river and nature in general. Some tales told involved rivers and its inhabitants. Someone exclaimed the ultimate metaphor: life is a lot like a river. I realized that was sometimes reflected in the testimonials. That is not to be confused with “life is like a box of chocolates.”

Life is like a river. A river is always flowing, sometimes slowly and other times quickly. Sometimes a river is quiet, but sometimes it roars so you can’t hear yourself think. Some rivers become great assets of the earth while others just share peace and tranquility with those lucky enough to hear the river’s voice and understand. A river will change course when confronted by an external force, but resume as is meant to be. The river continues to flow just as life goes on. Even after the celebration and goodbyes are said, we believe the living goes on and on.

Herman Hesse in his book Siddhartha put it like this: “Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time? That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future.”

Ya know… life is like a river!