It always seems as if the spirit of the river was speaking to me, and telling me how, in its rapid, continuous course, it is setting an example to man how he can most wisely and happily regulate his life. The water is so wise; when it comes to little banks and uneven places in its bed, it gently flows over them without making any bother about it, and this, says the river, is just the way that men should treat little unpleasantness’s and smaller misfortunes of life instead of allowing such things to distract and worry them and perhaps even to alter their whole course of existence.
Then, when huge boulders of rocks stand out into the stream the river glides quietly around them accepting them as necessary evils which must be endured, since they cannot be cured, which is the way in which men should treat the greater difficulties and hardships of their lives, instead of fuming and fretting, or sitting down in despair.
These are the things that rivers never do says the spirit, and moreover, as they move constantly forward, they explore with their water every hold and corner within their reach, neglecting nothing, giving a kindly wash to everything that comes in their way, and holding a pleasant conversation with all objects, living or inanimate, with which they come in contact.
So a wise man, and one who desires to make his life useful and pleasant to himself and others, will always seek for information as he goes along through the world, will ever have a cheery word for his fellow travellers, and be ready to do a kind and friendly action to any that require it. And, if he does so, just as the river grows broader and wider as it nears the ocean in which it finally loses itself, and merges its wasters in the infinite space of the sea, so the man’s life will become grander and more noble as it approaches its close, and he will have gained the affection and respect of all whose respect and affection are worth gaining, before the stream of his life, too, floats out upon the ocean of eternity.
Extract from the Legend of St Derfec c. 566-660