Rivers have existed since the creation of continents and some of them are one of the oldest ecosystems on our planet. They have provided an optimal, high quality habitat for multiple species of plants and animals. In addition to creating a living environment for millions of creatures, they have also shaped the lives of people and the human activity in all the regions. They both often facilitated the settlement and growth of a community and proved to be a very destructive force, taking out human lives and their hard earned and worked possessions.
It is a great mistake to assume that rivers played an essential role for the primary communities only. Throughout the course of history we have seen that these natural watercourses had a significant impact on city formation and transportation. They repeatedly changed the course of military battles and had to be taken into consideration before any war campaign could commence. They have been a place of ritual inauguration, worship and sacrifice. Some of them have become associated with popular legends and myths that date back thousands of years. Furthermore, rivers have been a visual inspiration for artists since the dawn of time. Today, they provide a favorite spot for organizing social gatherings, barbecues, and as summer season begins, one cannot wait to get away from the city chaos and spend a few days surrounded by the calming hum of the river.
There is no denying the rivers are involved in every facet of our lives, even if we have ceased to notice their presence and importance. It would be worthy, however, to take a moment and think what lessons we can draw from their uninterrupted existence.
Source of life
Rivers have been a source of life and fertility since the life itself began. They continue to provide an indispensable habitat for living organisms. Like it is with all other creatures, our bodies too consist largely of water. Rivers ensure that water runs constantly in our taps and finally finds itself in plastic bottles and glasses, ready to hydrate and refresh us. Without this constant flow of water there would be no us, or not much on this planet for that matter ,and this basic fact should stay with us all the time.
In our daily reality we tend to attach excessive importance to unnecessary and artificial things and that often unreasonable choice of priorities makes us lose the clear-headed look at the essence of our existence, which is in fact uncomplicated and undemanding. When we strip down all the non relevant things that encompass us, and return to the basics, we suddenly realize the simplicity, harmony and purity of our being. A being that, in theory, doesn't need much more than water in order to survive. Rivers consistently provide for numerous species on our planet. They do provide for humans too, though this fact seems to pass unnoticed . There is not enough respect for nature and rivers from our side and it is increasingly saddening. After all, the most important lesson rivers teach us is that without their work there would be no life at all.
Keep the straight course
Rivers are in a constant move. Each river has its own course, and runs in a channel constrained by river banks. They usually have a source, a place where they begin, in higher ground such as mountains or highlands, where small streams are formed out of rain water, melted snow, sleet and hail. They have their estuaries in large bodies of water such as seas and oceans. Their beginning and end are specified, and rivers don't change their courses unless forced to. The constancy and unrandomness of this flow of water results in the enormous force of rivers.
I believe that rivers can teach us how to keep our goals straight and work towards them. To deviate from the adopted path and from the most direct and desirable approach in our actions, is to lose control over our proceedings. Very often we find ourselves trying to alter tasks we have already started and that we are working on. By concentrating on changing things we divert our attention from the task in hand, we lose the results-orientated approach. Instead of 'going with the flow' we spend valuable energy on needless ponderations. In this case, rivers show us how straightforward our undertakings should be. Making a decision and sticking to it is the way to success and desirable benefits.
Power to recreation
Rivers, with their highly ecological features, are the source of life and water for all people. Their natural balance is, however, being continuously disrupted by exposure to contamination by human waste and industrial activity. Along their course, rivers receive numerous chemical spills and contaminants that cause their pollution. The source of the river, however, ensures the constant renewal of fresh water, thus many rivers still provide excellent environmental conditions for living organism, fauna and flora. However severe and damaging contamination proves to be, the nature of rivers makes it possible to fight it and keep on restoring the natural river environment and its ecological integrity.
Human organism is very similar to the river in its power to recreation and restoration of its natural balance. In present times, our bodies are like those rivers. They are constantly being abused and used as waste dumps, to be painfully honest. They are stretched to the limits in their ability to absorb and assimilate so many harmful substances we consume nowadays. Fast foods, chemically modified and processed foodstuffs, products containing unnatural ingredients, they all force our bodies to wage a constant war so that we can remain in good shape and enjoy our lives. But the sad reality is that the damaging substances leave their trace in river channels and don't completely disappear . Likewise, our bodies remember all the abuse we caused them, whether it is smoking, drinking or poor eating. And like the level of river contamination is today increasingly alarming, it should also be a warning to us not to treat our bodies as indestructible organisms.
Learn to show respect
Finally, rivers, and the whole nature in general, teach us to respect our lives, our planet and send us a meaningful message that says you get what you give. Rivers and other natural resources provide us with everything we possess today and, sadly, those resources have already began to run out.
Although rivers are so generous in their offerings, it's a mistake to expect that the invasive treatment they receive will have no impact on this generosity. The destructive side of rivers is often switched on by humans themselves, who increase the average temperature on Earth, therefore cause global warming, by polluting and contaminating the environment. Galloping deforestation, urbanization and increase in population also influence the well being of our environment. A massive strain is being put on it. Small wonder then that rivers rebel by flooding cities and villages, landslides and mudslides bury whole houses, and the Earth says no to the abuse by causing fatal earthquakes.
The lesson of respect is a very important one and should be strongly emphasized, as we seem to be approaching some sort of a critical point in our history. The natural disasters are increasing in numbers and more destructive in their outcomes too. If we don't change our way of treating nature, it will undoubtedly be cruel to us in return. This fact is evident if we observe the behaviour of rivers.
There is so much to learn from the river. If we look closely, we might just notice that the nature of river existence may provide a number of clues on how to live our own lives. Incredible as it may sound, at the end it all comes down to the basic truth that rivers have been here since the beginning of times and many of them have survived it all. Furthermore, we can try to dominate and subjugate them, but it's all about living in symbiosis with them.