Zarathustra Speaks to the Stream

I’ve been away from this blog for a while but recently a few people have encouraged me to return to it. I thought I’d start with the big event that occurred during the haitus, which was to get remarried!

Long-time readers may remember a little piece of existential philosohy I wrote called Zarathustra Speaks to the Trees. Borrowing the main character of Nietzche’s famous work, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, it explicated my outlook on life at the time. For my wedding, I borrowed the wise man again to talk about love, marriage, and my relationship with my bride-to-be.

* * * * *

As Zarathustra was descending the mountain that borders the Lake of Blue and Silver, he heard a stream tumbling and playing down a rocky bed. It was such a joyous sound that he decided to visit the stream. 

Approaching, he called out, “Hail, friends!”  

“You call us friends,” replied the stream. “but most who come this way see only me, and not my companion. Perhaps you are the sage, Zarathustra, who is rumored to travel this land from time to time.” 

“I am,” said he, “but as for there being two of you–stream and stream-bed–it could not be more obvious. Stream, I could hear your laughter at a hundred paces, and there are few who laugh alone. I might even say that I hear the unique notes of love in your laughter.”  

“You are right about that, too” said the stream-bed. “In fact, we are to be married next week.” And then, after a pause, “Perhaps you would favor us with some advice for our life together, and pronounce your blessing?” 

“Tell me about yourselves first,” said the wise man. “Why do you love each other? And what does love mean to you?” 

The stream-bed spoke first. “She is my reason for being. Without her, I would only be a dry home for lizards and the insects they hunt.” 

“Without him, I would be a swamp,” she laughed. 

“Not so, my dear. You would find your way down the mountainside without me. But it is my joy to carry you to the Lake of Blue and Silver, where the sun dances by day and the stars are doubled at night.” 

“And carry me he does. He holds me so close that there is no space between us, yet I am always free to leap and play as I please.” 

“She fits me so perfectly and covers me so completely that I want for nothing, yet she is so clear that I can always see the sky.” 

“I am not always clear,” she said to Zarathustra. “Sometimes I carry sediment that falls into him like slow tears. He receives it in a quiet, peaceful place and I am able to leave it behind.” 

“When I am down,” he said, “when I plunge most steeply, she becomes more beautiful, sometimes even becoming a misty rainbow. Invariably, I recover soon after.” 

“But most of the time,” said the stream, “we just enjoy life together, as we were doing when you arrived.”   

“You seem well-matched,” said Zarathustra. “What do you see in your distant future?” 

“I am going to the Lake of Blue and Silver,” said the stream. “There is a star that we have chosen together, and when I have come to the place of my resting, I will hold the reflection of our star in my heart forever.” 

“I do not know how my journey ends,” said the stream-bed. “It is not my nature to move as easily as my love, nor is my destination as well-determined. Whatever happens, it is enough for me that she holds our star. 

“And now, Zarathustra, perhaps you would give us your counsel and your blessing?” 

“I shall address you first, my rocky friend. You have great strength, but a stream-bed without a stream is just an obstacle. You have well said that the stream is your reason for being. As long as you act from that principle, you will bless not only her, but everyone who travels this way–yourself, too, for her lovelines and clarity will become the lens through which you see the world. 

“Stream, your task is easier. Your nature is to refresh everyone you touch, and at this you will succeed without any effort at all. However, if your husband is wise, he will offer spaces in which you may multiply your loveliness: cool, shady pools in which you can become deeper; rocky, winding courses where you can frolic; and tranquil expanses where you can spread out and reflect the sun. Enjoy them all without fear, for he loves you.  

“My blessing for your marriage is this: May rock guide water so gently, and may water carve rock so tenderly, that your growing harmony will seem at once miraculous and inevitable.” 

Thus spoke Zarathustra. 

* * * * *

For our first anniversary, in August of 2019, I commissioned this painting. Zarathustra was from Persia, which was centered in what is now Iran, so I was thrilled to find the Iranian artist Sahar Ghavimi living in a town near me. She painted it in the style of a traditional Iranian miniature.

The caption is a translation into Farsi of a line from the story: her loveliness will become the lens through which you see the world.

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