Going Downstream

Going Downstream

A river.

You long for it. To feel its cool, refreshing waters soothe your aching feet.

"Stay away," say the wise old ones. "The waters are deep and fast."

But you are young and confident that you can resist.

You wade in slowly, feeling the sand beneath your feet, the cool liquid against your legs, and you love the feeling so much.

"Stay to the shore," say the old ones. "Or the water will whisk you away."

But you love the feeling of the water and wade in farther.

They're trying to warn you. They tell you, "Come back!"

But the water is already tugging gently at your waist, begging you to follow it.

With one last glance to your elders, you dive in, swimming with the flow of the river.

There are others coming around you now, and for a while, it's fun. You play together, as friends, but it can't last. More are joining your group as you swim downstream, forgetting your elders completely.

Some of your friends leave now, unloving of the crowd, retreating to the soggy banks, and others you are pulled apart from. Now there are new ones near you, and it is so dense that you no longer stand out. You are now invisible, except to those swimming right beside you.

The wise ones run along the sides begging for your return, but no longer can you reach the edge. You are being crushed in the mass of bodies trying to follow the flow and can no longer breathe.

When you finally reach the bank, a survivor of the river pulls you out. You thank him as you catch your breath, and then you see the river of people, and you realize that they're running straight off a cliff.

Finally, you understand. The wise ones were right. The river's trends pull you in even when you try to resist. And you realize that if you hadn't gotten out, you'd have drowned... going downstream.