Life in a Canoe

I often wonder what life would be like living on the riverbank. Sometimes I see people doing chores there and taking baths. They seem so permanent, so rooted. I wonder what excitement their lives provide them. From what I can observe, not much. Yet last night a heard a young girl, I think, singing in the darkness. I wonder if everyone sings, and whether all sing alone or sometimes together.

My life here has its interesting side, too. Mostly it’s a struggle against the flow of the river and obstacles, seen and sometimes unseen. Only the foolish float without a paddle in the water, and then not for long. With the paddle I sense everything in the river, rocks and snags, turtles and larger fish even. I call the smaller fish to dinner. I sleep in calm water next to the bank, one side or the other, it doesn’t matter. Few people on the bank even notice me gliding by like a ghost. Young children do. They point and laugh and then go back to their games.

You may wonder what my goals are in life. First must always be to stay upright. It is very dangerous to capsize and always uncomfortable. If one cannot catch his canoe or right and re-board it one becomes a riverbank person until a new canoe can be built. This happened to me once. Halfway through the rebuild a young woman approached. We had no common language but signs and later love. When I finished, I asked her to come with me to be my wife, lover and the mother of my children, but she was hesitant. The call of the river cut short my efforts to convince her.

My goals in life are varied. To keep my stomach full, to occupy my mind. To learn all there is to know about the river, to find out whether it ever comes to an end and what is there. Perhaps there are even many rivers, though our philosophy teaches otherwise. I free my mind to wonder if it may be so, and what kind of people and creatures might be found there. Sometimes I think the same as here. Sometimes I imagine fantastical.

My brothers and sister float down this river too, some ahead and some behind. Occasionally we call out to one another from currents of different speeds. I saw my mother a season ago without my father aboard. I wonder what has happened. Perhaps I will find out some night at rest along the shore, though larger spaces for mooring are rare.

The birds are colorful today. I haven’t seen this kind before. I think I will stop early tonight to explore.


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