Down a River of Time


I have the following story to share with you as we enter this new year.  I wrote this blog about four years ago.

Karen and I make the trip twice a year between our homes in Wisconsin and Arizona to follow the sun.  While driving back to Wisconsin from Arizona, we were listening to classical music on Public Radio when they said they were going to play a piece called “Down a River of Time.”  Both Karen and I noted the title and almost simultaneously said: “that would make a wonderful metaphor for a blog.”  Since many of my blogs deal with metaphors, (Do you remember the difference between an analogy, a simile and a metaphor?) I thought it would be a good subject for the New Year.  If you want to listen to the music while you read this short blog (Click on the link:  Down a River of Time).  You will probably enjoy the music more than my blog.

twisty-riversThe most obvious metaphor for this topic is that we are all on a River of Time.  Some of us are on long rivers, some of us on short rivers.  Some of our rivers are very rocky.   Some of our rivers are very shallow and rapid.  Some of us are on rivers that are deep and wide.  A lucky few of us may live our lives on rivers that are very tranquil and wild-riverplacid.  Most likely though, most of us will live on rivers with many twists and turns that will suddenly go from peaceful and placid to wild and rough.  We will all no doubt eventually have unexpected obstacles that arise causing some of us to suddenly capsize.  Those of us who are lucky will find our way back into the boat.  Many will not be so lucky.

placid-riverIf you have spent your life on a wide tranquil river, it would be very difficult for you to appreciate anyone coming from a rough whitewater style river.  The converse is also true.  Maybe that is why it is difficult to walk in anyone else’s shoes.  We are all on different rivers and it is hard to understand the perspective of someone whose river is one we have never paddled.  At this point, you might say:  “Well, I disagree, life is simply one vast river and we all have rocks and logs and rapids to manage.”  Maybe so.

with-kidsWhen we are very young, our parents do the paddling for us.  As we become teenagers we decide we want to paddle alone.  We want our independence.  Some of us go to school to learn how to paddle and navigate.  Learning a language will help those who want to navigate foreign rivers.  Circumstances or choice will eventually force many of us to leave our first river and go far away to try a new river.  The bold among us will switch rivers many times in their life and continually attempt more challenging ones.


As we get older, the paddling gets harder and we may need to rely on others for help to paddle.  We can no longer do it by ourselves anymore.  The paddling continues to become more difficult with each passing year.  Eventually, there will come a day when we are too old to paddle at all.  At this point, we will have to depend entirely on someone to do the paddling for us.  Some of us will have a difficult time letting go of the paddling chores.  It is not easy to navigate a river that takes us from dependence to independence and back to dependency again.

Time for Questions:

You might ask yourself today what kind of a river are you on now?  What kinds of rivers have you navigated in the past?  Have you had many rocky or obstacle strewn stretches in your river?  Have you ever capsized but managed to get back in?  Do you have a lifejacket in the boat with you?  Are you paddling solo or do you have a partner?  Have you become a better paddler over the years? If not, why?  What will it take for you to continue down the River of Time and continue having fun and enjoying the ride?

Life if just beginning.

“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.”
― Hermann HesseSiddhartha

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jeanine
    Jan 03, 2017 @ 19:46:20

    Sometimes the water has been calm and it is smooth sailing ,and other times the waters have been so choppy it was hard to stay afloat. For the most part I like to stay close to the riverbank now. In another metaphor, I have often compared life to a roller coaster. You experience highs and lows and sometimes you’re just standing still. GOOD BLOG!



  2. johnpersico
    Jan 03, 2017 @ 20:33:08

    Thanks. I can see life being like a roller coaster.



  3. Dr. John Persico Jr.
    Feb 19, 2020 @ 21:12:12

    Reblogged this on Aging Capriciously and commented:

    Here is a blog from three years ago that I still like very much. Hope you enjoy it. It did not get many readers so I doubt many of you have read it.



  4. Jane Fritz
    Feb 21, 2020 @ 08:35:44

    Good post, John. As I come to acknowledge that my body has moved into its old-age phase, whether I was expecting it to hit so suddenly or not, I’d say I find myself on a calm, peaceful river with beautiful views on all sides (world politics aside). This is the kind of river we hope we’ve reached when our body tells us “it’s time!”. I like the river metaphor. We’ve been on some amazing rivers, including the Colorado through the Grand Canyon, the Ganges, and the Mekong; more adventurous rivers for more adventurous times! This peaceful one, like the beautiful St. John River we live alongside, is perfect for now.



    • Dr. John Persico Jr.
      Feb 21, 2020 @ 10:37:29

      I am glad that you are finding a calm peaceful river Jane. It sometimes seems to me that is very hard to do with current politics and all. But I agree, when I forget the politics, I am much happier now then I have ever been. Sounds like you have experienced a wide variety of real rivers in your life.



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