This post is the last in a series called “500 Words To Save The World.” For each piece, I used exactly 500 words to address a problem. Later this week I will be returning to my longer format, and I have long list of great stories to bring you. Until then, enjoy this tenth installment of short solutions to the greatest human challenges. You may start counting words… now!
I am writing from an eastbound Amtrak train.
The musician Jill Sobule said, “there’s something about a train,” and on this point I must agree. Like attending a live baseball game, a train forces you to slow down and accept its pace for what it is. It might be on time and it might not, but in the end, you will get there when the train does; nothing you do is going to change that.
Last week I purchased digital versions of some music I once had on cassette. I say “had” (not owned) because I never paid for these albums before. It felt good to toss these artists a few bucks after enjoying their work for decades.
One of the albums was “All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes,” by Pete Townshend. I don’t know what the title means, but it contains a song that I have always loved, “The Sea Refuses No River.”
Listening for the first time in years, I heard things in the lyrics that had simply bounced off my younger self.
Wanting to know what Mr. Townshend was trying to say, I googled the meaning of the song. The Internet consensus is that the song is about heroin, which is something to which I cannot personally relate. However, since art is something to be interpreted by the beholder, I have found my own meaning.
Towards the end of the song, there is a line:
The sea refuses no river
No pecking code
Respected for the damned
In the context of the world in which we live, this lyric screamed out something everyone on this big blue marble should stop doing… judging.
The metaphor for the song is simple; the ocean accepts all that flows into it; every drop, no judgment.
The ocean has no free will, and could never actually choose to refuse a river, but that’s not the point. By definition the sea must accept every thing that comes towards it, from pristine waters to sewage chock-full of garbage. Refusing anything would be pointless since it can’t be done, at least not for any meaningful measure of time.
One only need look at man’s perpetually failed attempts to hold back the sea, to see the futility.
As humans, I believe we are our very best selves when we receive everyone we encounter… everyone.
This does not mean we must accept risk and invite danger into our lives, but rather welcome the opportunity to learn and enrich every person who crosses our path.
I am not asking you to become close friends with every menacing person on the streets where you live, but instead to welcome the idea of every person as a fellow man, instead of a list of bad decisions to be judged and admonished.
Strangers know nothing of each other struggles, yet we judge them without hesitation.
I know it will be uncomfortable, and I know it will be hard, but every chance you get… be the sea and refuse no river.
Copyright © 2015 – Stephen S. Nazarian – All rights reserved.(Be The Sea)