If you sit down by the riverbank long enough you will see the bodies of your enemies float by.
This is a saying some proclaim to be an ancient Japanese proverb and other websites believing it to be from Sun Tzu. Regardless of who’s wisdom has gifted the world these thoughtful words, it is the quote itself that has left me pondering.
The first time I read this, I knew it was a powerful quote. There was something special about it, something powerful in those words. Maybe I am being melodramatic but I can picture past mistakes made my great men when I read this. I feel as though I can hear them whisper to me their wisdom and knowledge. What I found most intriguing was that at first even though I knew it was special, I didn’t know why. I couldn’t understand these words.
My first presumption was that patience conquers all else. That maybe having patience will allow the things we wish for most to happen in time. Maybe the nature of the world rewards those who wait. The people at peace with the world, those who are in-tune with nature have good things come to them.
But for someone with my personality this was a hard pill to swallow. I have always fought, struggled against the world to find my place, to become the person I want to be. For me, I could never just “sit down by the riverbank”, I could never wait for things to go my way. If I wanted something; a dream, a vision, a hope, then I always sought it out. I fought for what I want, striving to be the best, not just the best I could be but the best of everyone. I want to stand atop mankind, showing that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. So I searched for a deeper meaning, hoping that Sun Tzu had a different intention for this saying. I found what I searched for.
As we sit along the riverbank, as we watch our enemies float lifelessly past, we too realize that we are lifeless. By spending our lives watching, waiting for things to happen we never leave the riverbank. All our dreams, our hopes, our ambitions are never achieved, left waiting for time to attain them for us. We must not spend our lives waiting, we must take action, for to be strong, smart, courageous each and every individual must control their own destiny.
The leaves turn orange, red and yellow and drop all around me, coating the rich green grass like a blanket as I lay motionless. The light blue river turns a deep hue and slowly freezes over. Light snow covers the naked ancient trees as my world goes quiet. The small swift animals take shelter and I am all alone. I remain watching as the snow begins to melt, trickling into the once again flowing river. The leaves that blanket me are blown away into the distance and the grass again gains its emerald green fullness. The trees give birth to thousands of leaves and once again I am surrounded by the noise of nature.
It is beautiful.
But this life is not for me. I stand, shake the stiffness from the body, stretching my aching joints and feel the warmth seep back into muscles. I begin to walk away from the beautiful river, this is not my destiny. This is not my life. I disappear long before the bodies begin to flow down my river.
You can stand on the edge of the world and hold onto a star but to sit on one you have to make the jump.
As he stands at the back, far from watchful eyes, he knows. Knowing who he will be, the wisdom he will gain. The man does not exist yet, but he is deep inside the soul waiting to grow. But if you look closely, you can see in his eyes, the determination, the pride, the desire that will develop.
I stare into his eyes. They are knowing, like he can predict who I am, who I want to be, and who I will become. He can tell the future, can predict where my life will lead, my success, my failures, my hopes and dreams.
We all have a dream. Something for our whole lives we wished to achieve. These dreams are what shape our personality, our character. They are unique, personal and powerful for not everyone will achieve theirs. Anyone can look up and wish upon a star, but to be truly great, truly happy a leap must be taken to catch that dream.
The world tells us we cannot do things because of our natural ability, most are not strong enough, fast enough or smart enough. Those people will bring you down to their level, so they are not the only ones who don’t achieve their desires. Instead of listening to everyone else and their doubts, listen to the inner soul and trust your own judgement.
I stare back into those eyes, so beautiful and strong. He is an old soul, determined, proud, full of desire.
They are like my eyes, still determined, still proud, brimming with desire.
I cannot fail him, I cannot let him down. His strength is my own, his passion is infectious and I will not fail him. His youth is so pure and trustful that I must not fail him.
His dreams are my dreams. He is me and I will not fail him.