There was a time when this river was his only friend.
He had grown up by the river Constantine, biggest and mightiest river in the land. As a child, he had never noticed how it affected his life.
But things change.
Things have changed. He now owned most of this land – both on the left and right banks of the river. He led the people, he administered to their needs and the needs of the land and so he knew one thing for a fact -- the very life of his land and people depended on this river.
As a kid, he never really cared for it that much. The Constantine was a veritable playground -- adventures waiting to happen on its banks as he and his playmates frolicked on afternoons when the chores got done early. It was a picnic place for his family on Sundays after church. It was a source of cool when the heat beat down on a crazy summer's day.
As he grew up, it was as though the river became increasingly a part of his life as well. He could still remember his first catch, a trout -- when his uncles took him fishing the first time. It was the price of manhood it seemed, and the 7-inch fish earned him the praise of these men.
He smiled as he remembered his first kiss, because you never forgot such moments. The river was witness to that, as well as the moon. He then had his heart broken soon afterward, and again the raging waters were privy to his tears.
As years were added to his life, his respect for the river grew. The old ones would talk about it almost with awe and reverence -- he understood that now. The land produced plenty or few at the will of the river, its waters carrying minerals from its source in the mountain ranges to fatten the land. Or it withheld its blessing.
Year after year the rainy season came, and the people were under its mercy. The villages along the banks knew well of the force of the floods. They took these all in stride though because it is the way of the river. You get used to it. You live and die by it.
He used to sit on his favorite rock watching the river in its flood stage -- strangely, he enjoyed the river's rage. It was irresistible - the might of Constantine's waters rushed through the land with so much force that it broke out into other small tributaries that spread out into the land, ultimately pushing its way into the coast.
And so as he stood here on the Constantine's banks today, a deep sadness enveloped his soul. He took off his shoes and waded into the water. His bodyguards were immediately at his side, but he motioned them away. A man of influence he was, but this was something he had to go through himself.
He stepped into the Constantine -- you can't even call it a river now. It was... a stream, a mere trickle of the mighty raging flood it used to be. The stream's clear water flowed over his toes as his bare feet moved among the colored pebbles. The waters seemed to recognize him, a feeling of deep calm coming over him as he walked along the water.
It has been a year now since the last raging flood was observed on the Constantine. Over the past year, the water level had steadily dropped, the river providing no reason whatsoever for its lethargy. The people voiced out their theories as to why the river's waters waned. Logically, well...
There was no explanation.
The amount of rain had been the same all throughout the year, as with the years that have past. Why should this year be any different?
He was still walking through the water, his destination now within sight, but a million thoughts still bombarded his soul. He wanted the river to come back, yes, with all his heart. It's as if his life has suddenly developed a thirst for Constantine's rage -- the rage that was no more. Of course, issues of the land still demanded his attention, but this one came back, over and over again, on nights where he would wish to hear these waters pushing forth.
His favorite rock was still there, occupied by an old man. The man, well into the last few years of his life, looked at him as if he expected him to say something. There was nothing to say except...
"You're in my spot."
The old man gave a hint of a smile, and did nothing -- he would not give up his seat, it seemed. He, on the other hand, couldn't find anything else to do or say at that moment, and so he sat there beside him. The silence was getting awkward.
"You miss it too, eh?"
"I do. Deeply." There were no other words to describe it.
"And it seems wanting it back is not enough."
He nodded. There was wisdom in that statement somewhere, it seemed, only that he didn't have the will to dig for it at the moment.
"The river has a source, you know, way up in the mountains. I've been there, once. The look on your face says you have not seen it as yet."
"No, sir, I have not."
"Satisfy your curiosity, then. Go and see it, that you can tell that story as well when you're my age. Heh heh." The old man laughed, then smiled a sad smile at the fleeting memory.
"It is a spring. A hole in the ground, would you believe? If only to see what is wrong, I suggest that you go and see it. Yes, that is my suggestion."
The young man looked up into the mountains. The old one was getting up and walking away.
"But the land has its affairs. Surely, I can't just go and leave the land to look at a hole in the ground?"
The old man was walking away, but replied, "Pssshh. The land can take care of itself for the few days that you will be gone up in the mountains. When you come back, your affairs will still be here. But you will have seen what I have seen. Then this thing you would not lack, as you lack it now."
The younger man stood up and walked away as well, but with a strange new purpose in his stride. His feet were still in the water among the pebbles, but his head was already making that trip up to the mountains.
Come down, pour out on me...
- Dan Haseltine