Row Your Boat Series #5: Merrily

Row Your Boat Series #5: Merrily

"Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream,
Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily,
Life is but a dream."

Merrily. Happily. Joyfully. 

These are not words, feelings nor experiences associated with the darkness, any darkness, particularly not death’s darkness.

When we are within the darkness, especially after the loss of a loved one, we can’t imagine how we will ever feel happiness or joy again. And the thought of rowing merrily - now that is a dream.

Rowing angrily, angrily, angrily, angrily - not a problem.
Rowing fiercely, furiously, violently - that isn’t hard to do.
However, rowing merrily, merrily, merrily, - that only works in nursery rhymes, not in the river of real life.

Anyone who tells you how to row through the grief doesn’t understand grieving.
Anyone who tells you to row merrily, they clearly don’t understand what real happiness is about. As long as you don’t hurt yourself or those around you, at least for a period of time, row, or don’t row, however you want.

With that said, there comes a point, somewhere down the stream, when rowing angrily only brings blisters, bruises, and makes for a miserable rowing mate.

There just comes a time when we have to stop drifting and start rowing, rowing purposefully, rowing gently and rowing merrily - whether we want to or not. 

Sometimes, you just have to heed the words of the mystic master Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav, who said, "Even if you don’t feel happy you can fake it. Pretend to be happy.” (As an aside, Rabbi Nachman was said to have struggled with the depression. He knew a thing or two about the dark).

No, we aren’t here to live as fakes, however, neither are we here to live lives of misery as we drift in our perennially unhappy little boats.

When you’re on the river of grief do whatever it takes to stay afloat, and sometimes that means you just have to fake it till you make it. 

Eventually the joy will return. One day it will be genuine. 

Your dead loved ones want you to be happy. 
Your living loved ones are waiting for you to return.
You deserve to know the happiness of rowing.

Until then, keep rowing and trust that someday you’ll row merrily, merrily, merrily, gently, down the stream, again.

Baruch HaLevi