On one side lived a very busy and very lonely woman. She made her home in a cave at the foot of the mountain, and came out to get food and water from the river.
On the other side lived a very lonely and very active man. He made his home under a large fallen rock, and came out to get water and food from the forest.
At the top of the mountain lived a very old and very wise couple. They made their home in a small stone cottage build in an indentation, unseen from below. The couple knew of the existence of the man and the woman. They also knew that one day, the two would meet. They often discussed whether they should hasten this meeting somehow, but always disagreed on it. Sometimes the old man would suggest they get the man and woman together, and sometimes it was the old woman who suggested it. They never did anything, though sometimes one of them or the other would slip some extra food or drink into the cave or under the fallen rock.
One day, the woman was fishing, and she slipped and fell into the river, hitting her head on a rock. She floated unconscious down the river, all the way to the sea. She did wake up, with a nasty headache, but she didn’t know where she was. She made a life where she woke up – finding a new cave, and new places for food and drink. And she found people in a small village near the sea, and her life was made easier.
One day, the man was hunting, and he chased a deer up the foothills, up the crags to the top of the mountain. He found the stone cottage, and curious, he knocked on the door. The old couple greeted him, and welcomed him into their cottage. They served the man a fine meal, and built him a relaxing fire. During the night’s conversation, the woman came up, along with the fact that she seemed to be gone, and hadn’t been seen in quite some time. The man jumped to his feet immediately, and asked why they hadn’t ever told either of them about the other.
The old man told him that love cannot be forced, and friendships cannot be smashed together. They must happen naturally, in the course of doing what a person loves.
The old woman told him that in doing the things he loved, he was so focused that he forgot to find a person to love. Thus, the love that might have been, and the friendship that might have been, never existed.
The old couple told him that love and friendship do flow like a river, and are easy to follow, if one chooses to. The man asked the old couple how they had met, since there was no river on the top of the mountain. The old couple smiled at each other, and told the man that they had met while they were each searching for something greater than themselves. They both had reasoned that this thing greater than themselves must also be higher than themselves. And, long ago, in the indentation on the top of the mountain, they found each other, and knew they had found what they sought. They were true to themselves, and in doing so, were true for each other. The river is not the only thing that flows.
The man thought about this, and then thanked the couple. He climbed down the mountain and found the river. He followed the river, looking for food and drink, but also something deeper than himself. At the end of the river, where it met the sea, he found the depths. He explored the coral reefs, and the waves, and watched the sun set. He lay on the beach and watched the moon track across the sky, and fell asleep. And when he awoke, he turned one way and another, and saw, down the beach, a young woman.
The man stood up immediately, and the woman stood up immediately. The man walked into the water, and the woman walked into the water. The man swam towards the woman, and she towards him. As soon as they touched, they knew – she had come to the sea naturally, and found friendship naturally, and he done the things he loved without forgetting to find someone to share it with, and found love. And they swam out into the sea, and dove under the waves, hopelessly in love with one another. And they grew old with one another, and into one another, and lived under the waves.
There once was a very wide and very deep sea…