Row, Row, Row Your Boat…



“… gently down the stream…”

Most of us know this old nursery rhyme even from our childhood years.  However, do you remember what the final lines are?

“… merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.”

Have you ever thought, “What is this song telling us?  I’d dare say that most of us haven’t thought much about it.  Do you know when this rhyme was written?  How far back does this thought go back?  Well let’s explore this for a moment.

In the last line of the rhyme it states, “… life is but a dream”.  One of the first people who came to my mind when thinking about this part of the song/rhyme was Albert Einstein and his famous quotation →

I won’t insult you with a scientific explanation of what he means, besides, if I attempted to do that, I would probably embarrass myself to no end, so allow me to give a widely known and accepted explanation that predates Mr. Einstein by at least a few thousand years.

Most all of us know and accept that man is the combination of spirit (energy) and the physical.  Since we can no more destroy energy than we can create it, our spiritual side of life is literally immortal.  Even as a child, I always wondered why I was being taught that we have only one lifetime to get knowledge and understanding – get all “right”, then die.  If you got it right, you go to heaven; if not…  Also, my thoughts always went to, what for me was the obvious – who is right?  Who knows the truth?  With so many others claiming to know the truth, how will we know which “truth” is true?  And finally, why is truth progressive?  Isn’t there an “original truth” that still exists in its original form and state?

I found my truth, and it agrees in part with the nursery rhyme, Albert Einstein and Lao Tzu, as well as many others who understood and those that understand and know that our reality is a passing experience and we’ll lose ourselves if we pay too much attention to the journey, instead of the lessons to be learned and the wisdom to share with others.

Here is an excerpt from the history and the meaning of the rhyme.  I hope you’ll understand it and read the whole article (the link is provided):

“The lyrics have often been used as a metaphor for life’s difficult choices, and many see the boat as referring to one’s self or a group with which one identifies. Rowing is a skillful, if tedious, practice that takes perfection but also directs the vessel. When sung as a group, the act of rowing becomes a unifier, as oars should be in sync for the progression of a rowboat. The idea that human beings travel along a certain stream [time] and suggests boundaries in the path of choices and in free will. The third line recommends that challenges should be greeted in stride while open to joy with a smile.  Some have questioned the song’s implied necessity to row one’s boat downstream. This may in fact be a commentary on the paradoxical nature of time’s arrow with respect to man’s free will in a universe of materialistic causality. The final line, “life is but a dream”, is perhaps the most meaningful. With a religious point of view, life and the physical plane may be regarded as having equivalent value as that of a dream, such that troubles are seen in the context of a lesser reality once one has awakened.”

Row, Row, Row Your Boat – From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia