The Wise Man and the River

(C) 1995, Javilk


One day, a wise man decided to see what lay down the river. It was a long river, and he knew it would be a long, and perhaps difficult journey. Yet his curiosity got the better of him, so he went.

After a few days journey, he came upon a small island. There was a dark, sun shriveled man living there. He asked the man why he lived there.

I too, said the man, went upon a journey. When I found this island, I saw that the fishing was good, so I stopped.

Two days later, the wiseman came upon another island in the river. A family lived there. He spoke with the head of the family.

I came to several islands, said the man, but although the fishing was good, I could not see myself shriveling in the sun. Here, I have two trees for shade, so I stopped. It was good enough.

The wise man went on about his journey down the river, and in some days, came upon yet another island. Here, he found two families. He spoke to the elder.

Long ago, said the elder, I went searching down the river. I saw one island, the fishing was good, but there were no trees. There was another island with good fishing, some trees, but no spring. I saw this island had a spring, and so it was good enough. I settled, sent for my wife, and have a family. Now my son fishes with me, or sometimes for me, now that I am old. Then I sit in the warm sun, and am content.

The wise man continued utill he came upon a port at the mouth of the river. There, he could see all sorts of great treasures paraded in the bazars, and a great many man, young and old, some walking about dressed in rich leathers, others begging in rags. He saw an old man walk by, a retired merchant in worn, once rich leathers and faded pantalooms, and asked what he thought of it all.

I am old, he said. I have a large home, seven children, and many grand children. I have made many a journey down the river, and across the seas. I have been rich some times, and poor many others; for in life, things are rarely certain. In all my years of travel, I see that people get more or less what they expect, but rarely more than they are willing to work for.

Now, he continued, I see my sons and daughters off on their journeys, becomming whom they can be. How can we know who we are, he asked, if we do not venture forth on the tides of life?

You see this great city? I built this great port with my efforts. Not all of it, to be sure. and certainly not with my intent; but the merchants in the bazzar fed their families many a day selling what I had brought back to port, as did many other crewmen, porters and other, on Both sides of the seas. The harbor master paid a good part of his son's apprenticeship to a doctor with my landing fees; he treats me now and then, helped bring five of my grandchildren in to this world. A simple porter's son, apprenticed to a carpenter helped set the arches of two of my daughter's homes. This old jacket was made by one of my seaman's sons apprenticed in the leather trades far across the sea. I traded many of his jackets over the years. Now, his son is apprenticed to another doctor. All because of me.

When the aches and pains of age gnaw upon my bones, as they do on some days now, I remember what I have done, and it comforts my soul like the warm sun never could.... For I see... my life was worth while, and not just for me!

Copyright (C) 1996 and prior years, Javilk