The Water and the Rock
One evening, as the sun was slowly sinking below the horizon, marking the end of another day, a girl and a boy sat looking out across an ocean, that glowed with orange hues. As is usual for people watching a sunset, they became thoughtful. The girl turned towards the boy.
"Do you believe in reincarnation?" she asked.
"Reen what?" replied the boy, feeling a little embarrassed for not knowing what the girl was talking about. He liked her very much and wanted to impress her. Probably one of the other boys of the village would know what she meant and that thought caused him to feel a pain in his heart.
"Re-in-car-na-tion", the girl repeated slowly for the boy. She liked him too and wanted him to understand what she was talking about. "My grandfather told me that it is the process of being reborn after we die and of coming back to the Earth."
"Can that really happen?", this sounded like an interesting idea to the boy. Death is always fascinating to the living. "That would be amazing. Imagine coming back and being able to live your life all over again. You could correct all the mistakes that you made and right any wrongs."
"Yes, that would be good, but my grandfather said it didn't work that way. He said that you cannot choose the form in which you return, so you could come back as a dog, a cow or a butterfly or even a flower."
The boy dismissed the idea of being a flower or a butterfly since they must be only for girls. Flowers and butterflies are never appealing to young boys and men, even though they are among the most beautiful and delicate miracles of creation. Instead, he imagined himself as a dog, running and barking and playing all day, until he remembered how he had seen some of the men kicking and beating the dogs that strayed into the village. Perhaps being a dog would not be such a good idea after all. Suddenly, a question occurred to him. "Can you come back as anything, or does it have to be a living thing?" he asked.
Now it was the girl's turn to feel embarrassed because up until this moment, she had been enjoying her superiority over the boy and now he had asked her an intelligent question that had not yet occurred to her. She was impressed with the boy's intelligence and decided that perhaps he would make a good husband one day.
"I don't know. My grandfather didn't tell me." she answered honestly, since honesty was a way of life within the community of the village. "But I don't see why not."
"Then what would you choose to come back as?" asked the boy, feeling more secure now he no longer felt so embarrassed and for knowing that the girl was no longer so sure of herself. So often in life, we gain confidence in ourselves by noticing the lack of confidence in others.
The girl thought for a few moments. She wanted to prove to the boy how clever she was because men always coveted the intelligent women of the village. "I'd come back as a rock", she said, "because rock is hard and durable and would last forever and I'd be around to see all the changes that will surely take place in this world."
She was happy with her answer and smiled to herself as she watched the boy sitting and thinking. She had proved her intelligence this day and the boy would remember her above the other girls of the village. "And what about you?, she asked. "What would you return as?"
The boy looked out across the ocean to the horizon. He yearned to travel to the lands that were rumoured to lay beyond. To the places where the tales of lands filled with weird and wild creatures and people with the most strangest of looks and customs came from. The ocean always brought peace and tranquility to the soul of the boy, yet it was when he looked upon it's waters, that is when he heard the voice of his heart the loudest and strongest.
"Water.", he answered simply.
"Water?", questioned the girl incredulously. Maybe this boy was not so intelligent after all. "Water? Water is soft. It breaks easily on rock. Even I can put my fingers through water it is so soft."
The boy looked on the ocean a few moments more, then he turned to the girl who he knew would no longer be his wife.
"Water flows constantly from one place to another. It brings the nourishment from the skies that feeds the earth and allows the plants to grow. It allows us to quench our thirst after a hard day's toil in the fields. Water is the essence of life. If I were the water, then I would be life. And...", he looked at the girl, "water may break on rock, but with each breaking, a minuscule piece of the rock it taken away by the water. You may not notice it, but with time, the rock will slowly disappear, leaving only the water behind. That is why I would be the water."
The boy no longer thought about the girl in the way he had when they had first come to this place to watch the sunset together. Something felt different inside of him. For the first time, he felt awake. From within his heart, another thought came to him.
"Water is like the journey. It moves from place to place and as it does, it changes and it adapts. The rock is like the destination. It tries to remain the same, but it will eventually be changed whether it likes it or not. In life, we should try to be the water as we travel on our journey. The destination is always important because without that, we may become lost on our way and forget what it is that we set out to achieve. But it is the journey to the destination that defines us, that changes us and that allows us to make new discoveries about ourselves along the way."
The girl sat and looked at the boy. He had spoken like one of the elders of the village - wise and knowing. How was he able to say such things when only a few moments earlier he had not known what she was talking about? Yes, he would make a great husband who would be very respected for his wisdom.
The sun had now sunk below the horizon and another day was over. A girl and a boy sat looking out over the ocean as nightfall came and the stars began to emerge. Each was lost in their own thoughts and each knew that something had just changed.