When we talk to one another we engage in a ritual. Most people, of course, don’t think of it that way, but there are distinct patterns we follow in verbal exchanges. One type of exchange is the sharing of stories. The way we tell our stories to each other allows us to do so many things: build reputation, share awe, warn, teach, threaten, celebrate and explore, among others. Today we’ll discuss how we use stories to reveal ourselves and to reflect others.
A dance takes place as we interact. We reach out, we pull back, we want to know we are not alone, but we don’t want to be held back either. It’s a tricky two-step. To hold someone’s hand is to connect: to offer friendship, protection, comfort, to make your way undivided through a crowd, to guide, to show affection. In a world where we can feel alone in a sea of a million people, the chance to hold another’s hand can be a gift, an anchor, a place where for that moment you are not alone. For that moment you are joining forces.
I remember the first time I heard about RAK as a thing. It was in the 80’s and someone had gone around putting quarters in parking meters so folks wouldn’t get parking tickets. “What a great idea,” I thought. “So simple, so fun, and it has a really big WOW factor.” I’d never heard of any such thing. It was an ah-ha moment. I’ve grown to really like RAK’s because it’s become a bit of a game where the results are unknown. I pay for the guy behind me in the drive-thru – I have no idea how it will affect him. But I can bet, at the very least, he’s going to feel a little warm and fuzzy, and that’s going to translate into better thoughts and actions on his part.
Heraclitus said, “You cannot step into the same river twice.” Today’s story takes this very literally.
One thing I do not realize the first time I head for the river is that the person who steps onto the raft will not be the same person who steps off. The water washes not only grains of sand from the belly of the rock; it washes from me my routine, takes me to a momentary place, a liminal space, where so many things cease to matter. The consequences of the step onto the river are as opaque as the red silt water. It is a time and space where, like the rock, I am carved… we are carved, yet added upon one grain at a time.