“I see the river as a metaphor for our lives: we ebb and flow, ebb and flow, and then we are carried out to merge with the sea.” -Jack Poggi
When a river ebbs the sea level gradually falls or recedes. The flow of the river refers to the returning of the tide to the sea. In other words, the ebb and flow of a river is its ups and downs. After researching the usage of this phrase, I found that it’s commonly used to figuratively describe parts of our life like bumpy relationships or experiences in school or work, but I think it can be used to describe human life as a whole. Whether the scale is small or large, whenever you have a low in your life it is most usually followed by a high, but basically no matter how different our lives are, we all end up in the same place. Now, the events in our life aren’t exactly cyclic like a river, but we all begin and end.
When a river merges with the sea it is combining with something greater than itself…so what if our life is only truly over when we become something greater than ourselves? It’s interesting when you consider that ebb and flow is a form of hydroponics that is known for its simplicity and reliability of operation, but that can’t be said for our lives. So merging with “your sea” doesn’t have to mean death, rather finding your calling or the thing that you were created for.
When you imagine a tree, do you think of the human body? The tree meditation we would experience used the idea that body, speech, and mind can be symbolized as the roots, trunk, and flowers and fruits of a tree. The body is represented by the roots of the tree, indicating strength and growth for both the human body and the tree. Your speech is the trunk the tree and your mind the flowers and fruits of compassion and love. The tree, like many gifts of nature, provides a way of looking at human life from a different, symbolic perspective. The purpose of meditation is “to go beyond the mind and experience our essential nature.” In tree meditation, we would break down three fundamental parts of human life and analyze the purpose of the body, voice, and mind as they relate to the structure of a tree.
The actual process was nothing like I expected it to be. I went in expecting complete peace and concentration, so immediately after I found my spot by a little tree I sat down, closed my eyes, and started meditating. Trying desperately to ignore the gnats, moths, the sounds of cars passing and birds chirping, I focused on my tree. My ability to focus on my thoughts drifted as the sounds and bugs became overwhelming. Actually, there was one point where I started uncontrollably laughing in my head. All hope of regaining composure and focusing again was gone. Surprisingly, three interesting minutes later, I pulled it together telling myself that I would keep meditating until time was up. Then I saw that everyone was leaving.