Unfolding:

Easing the Journey through Shadow & Light

  • Dawn

The Girl Who Became a River

Anti-Anxiety Tool of the Week: Think about a pink-spotted giraffe

What happens when someone tells you, or you tell yourself, "Don't think about that!" when "that" is your current big problem or concern? It's like saying, "Don't think about a purple-striped zebra." And where does your mind go immediately? To an image of a purple-striped zebra, of course! Trying not to think about something doesn't work very well. Much better to say to yourself, "think about a pink-spotted giraffe." That works a lot better. So be kind to yourself; find something truly interesting to think about that is far removed from whatever your mind is currently obsessing about.


This tool is from the eighth Toolkit. Here's the Index of all toolkits. And The Mini-Toolkit: For Those with Little or No Time.


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Here's a folk tale/fable I wrote a few years ago. It's a little longer than my normal posts but since it's a story, perhaps it won't seem so long.


The Girl Who Became a River

The Girl with the purple hat frowned. “Have I lost something?” she said. She stood up. She sat down. She looked around. "Did I forget someone?" She scratched her head. “Perhaps if I walk through the village I'll remember as I go.”

She patted her head to make sure her hat was still there, and off she went.

It was a breezy day, and soon the Wind came whirling 'round. “WHOOOSH!” it said, and plucked the hat right off her head.

“That’s my HAT!” said the Girl. “Bring it BACK!” yelled the Girl.

“Nooooooooo!” said the Wind, dropping the hat on the highest branch of the tallest Tree in the village.

“BRING IT BACK!” shouted the Girl.

“Nooooooooo!” said the Wind, fading down the lane. “That’s for yoooouuu to doooooooo.” And it was gone.

The Girl squinted at the Tree—she could just see a bit of purple at the very top. She growled at the Wind.

An Old Woman came down the lane. Her skin was wrinkled and her hair was silver, but her smile was as bright as the sun.

“Tell me,” said the Old Woman, in a creaky voice. “What did the Wind say?”

“‘That’s for yoooouuu to doooooo,’” said the Girl. “Stupid Wind.”

“Ahhhh,” said the Woman, “the Wind never lies.” She kissed the Girl on the top of her head and off she went, lifting her arms into the sky.

The Girl stared after her, and slumped against the Tree. “But what can I do?”

She thought and thought.

“Ohhhh,” she said, finally. “Could I

become the Tree?”

She stood up, lifting her arms into the sky. “If I become the Tree," she said, "my hat will be in my branches, and I will have it back again.”

She stretched deep and deeper, with thousands of roots, and high into the sky, with curving branches. She drew in strength from the earth. She let the sun kiss all her leaves.

And there she was, the tallest Tree in the village.

“It is good to be rooted here,” she said, “a strong home for many creatures. Thank you, Wind, for helping me see. Thank you, Tree, for sharing your strength with me.”

She loosened her arms. Her legs released their hold in the earth…and once again she was a Girl, with a purple hat on top of her head.

“I am a Tree,” she thought, “and I am me. How mysterious.” She patted her hat. “But I am still looking for something.”

Soon she came to the village market. Geese were honking, chickens screeching, cows a-rumbling.

Suddenly a Horse reared up, breaking loose from its rope. It spun around the Girl, grabbed her hat in its teeth, and galloped away.

“That’s my HAT!” said the Girl. “Bring it BACK!” yelled the Girl.

“Na-aa-aa-aa-ay!” whinnied the Horse, as it galloped out to the plains beyond.

“BRING IT BACK!” shouted the Girl.

“Nay-ay-ay-ay-ay!” said the Horse, disappearing into the dust. “You’ll find a way-ay-ay-ay-ay.” And it was gone.

The Girl squinted—she could just see a spot of purple in the dust cloud. She growled at the Horse.

The Old Woman came through the market, her eyes very bright. “Tell me,” she said, in her creaky old voice. “What did the Horse say?”

“‘You’ll find a way-ay-ay-ay-ay,’” growled the Girl.

“Ahhhh,” said the Old Woman, “I think you will.”

“Stupid Horse,” said the Girl, kicking at the dirt.

The Old Woman kissed the Girl on the top of her head then off she went, letting her hair fly in the breeze. But her voice floated back on the Wind. “You’ll find a way-ay-ay-ay-ay…”

“But how?” thought the Girl, staring after her. She flopped down near one of the market stalls, and thought and thought.

“Ohhhh,” she said finally. “Could I become the Horse?” Her hair lifted in the breeze. “If I become the Horse, I will be holding my hat, and I will have it back again.”

The Girl stood up. She tossed her head, letting her hair fly. She felt the hardness of hoof and bone. She flung out her arms, embracing the speed of flight.

And there she was on the plains, galloping fast as the Wind.

“It is good to be here,” she said, “swift, and firm as the earth under my feet. Thank you, Horse, for sharing your joy with me.”

She slowed to a walk. Shaking her head, she lifted up her long front legs…and once again she was a Girl, with a purple hat in her hand.

“I am a Horse,” she thought, as she walked back to the village. “I am a Tree. And I am me. What a wonder.” She put on her hat. “But I am still looking for something.”

Soon she came to the River. The Girl loved the River. On quiet days she watched it slide past the stone bridge. On stormy days she liked to see it toss and spray. Today, under a diamond blue sky, the River was especially beautiful. She wandered to the middle of the bridge, and gazed down as a family of swans glided through the arch.


She leaned further and further over to watch as they went by and—Kerplunk! Her hat fell into the River. And floated off, swirling ’round and ’round.

“That’s my HAT!” said the Girl. “Bring it BACK!” yelled the Girl.

“Sssssshhhhh!” said the River, carrying the hat further and further away.

“BRING IT BACK!” shouted the Girl.

“Sssssshhhhh!” said the River. “Glisssten. Gliiide. Lisssten.”

The Girl squinted—she could just see a faint spot of purple twirling around in the water. She growled at the River.

“The River is so deep and so wide,” she said, sinking down onto the bridge. “Even with a boat, I might never find my hat.”

The Old Woman came across the bridge. Her eyes were bright and her smile still shone like the sun. “I didn’t quite hear,” she said, in her creaky old voice. “What did the River say?”

“Something dumb,” said the Girl, rolling her eyes. “How will I ever get it back?

“Don’t you know yet, Girl?” said the Old Woman.

The Girl looked up.

“Tell me,” said the Old Woman. “What do rivers do?”

The Girl looked at the River flowing under the bridge. She stared off as it disappeared into the distance. She sighed. “They glisssten. They gliiide. They lisssten,” she said.

Well?” said the Woman. She kissed the Girl on top of her head then off she went, moving her arms like water.

The Girl thought and thought.

“Ohhhh,” she said finally. “I have been a Horse, and I have been a Tree. But the River is so deep and so wide, so big and so beautiful. Could I become the River?”

She stood up. “If I become the River,” she said, her arms moving like water, “if I become the River, my hat will be floating with me, and I will have it back again.”

So the Girl glistened across the curve of the Earth. She glided through the hills towards the Sea. She listened to the Wind. And she became the River. She flowed with strength and steady pace through the heart of the village. She eased the thirst of all who touched her. She offered peace to all who saw her.

“It is good to be here,” said the Girl, “touching all I see. Thank you, River, for swallowing my hat, so I might learn to flow with you—gliding, glistening, and always listening.”

She rippled herself together, becoming small and solid…and once again she was a Girl, with a purple hat on her head.

The Old Woman met her in the middle of the bridge. “Did you find what you were looking for?” she asked in her creaky voice.

“I lost my hat three times,” said the Girl, patting her head to make sure it was still there. “But I always got it back again.”

The Old Woman smiled. "Is there more?" she said.

“Ohhhh,” said the Girl. "Yes. I found that I am deep and swift like a River, swift and strong like a Horse, strong and deep like a Tree. All are within me, all are like me, and I am like all three.”

"Ah!" said the Old Woman, smiling and nodding.

"And one more thing," said the Girl.

"Yes?" said the Old Woman.

“I found you,” said the Girl. “Or maybe, you found me?”

The Old Woman laughed. “Both,” she said.

“And...” said the Girl.

“Yes?” said the Old Woman, her eyes dancing.

“I learned that some guardian angels have silver hair. And wrinkles.”

The Old Woman kissed the Girl on the top of her head.

“Two Rivers to the Sea?” said the Girl.

“One River,” said the Old Woman. “One Horse. One Tree." She held out her hand. "Care to join me?"

Smiling like the sun, the Girl reached for her hand. Together they stood tall, lifting their arms into the sky. They went deep, and deeper, with thousands of roots, and let the sun kiss all their leaves. They flung out their arms, feeling the firmness of earth and embraced the speed of flight. They flowed with strength and steady pace through the heart of the village and together, they rolled on towards the Sea…


Gliding…

Glistening…

And always listening…



The Zen Buddhists…say that an oak tree is brought into creation by two forces at the same time. Obviously, there is the acorn from which it all began, the seed which holds all the promise and potential, which grows into the tree….But…there is another force operating here as well …the future tree itself, which wants so badly to exist that it pulls the acorn into being….

...the already existent oak…[is] saying the whole time: “Yes—grow! Change! Evolve! Come and meet me here, where I already exist in wholeness and maturity. I need you to grow into me!”

Elizabeth Gilbert

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia



Until next time,

Dawn


Photo credits:

Giraffe (edited), Sian Cooper, unSplash

Girl, Emona Henner Photography

Tree, Abe B. Ryokan, unSplash

Horse, Sarah Oliver, unSplash

Stone bridge, unknown

Old woman, unknown, unSplash

River aerial view, Mocah.org

Listening river, Chris Lui Beers, unSplash




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