Babbling Brooks, Reticent Rivers
I was never a fan of the saying "Still Waters Run Deep".
My mother loved saying that, usually if only to silence me and invalidate my points in order to quell our fight. To end it in her favor. As if the use of the proverb makes her win.
I love my mother.
For all our differences, I adore her.
But somehow, when she speaks the words of that overused proverb out loud, my love is tested, my very being trembles in restraint of every argument I have rehashed in my mind whenever she spoke those words.
Sometimes, instead of using the word "still", my mother used the word "silent". I have always been a noisy child. I cried often as a newborn, gurgled and mumbled as a one-year-old, and began simple sentences at age two. When I had finally grasped reading at age six, they couldn't keep me quiet anymore. Even if others had their minds on other things (Ma worked from home then, we lived with her parents), I babbled all the time. From the show that I heard my classmates talk about but I couldn't watch because we didn't have cable, to the factoids I dug up while hanging around the school library.
I was never silent. Not ever still.
I chattered and chattered and chattered.
I never stopped.
But as I grew older, and my tastes in topics and speech became more uncontrollable in my parent's eyes, it became less tolerable to them, more so a danger, and a disappointment.
I once tried to discuss the Louis Vuitton Mahjong set, the one made with jade tiles and wood dice; a light topic to lead to asking about my ancestors and their habits. Had they gambled? What games? Did they play Mahjong? Or cards? Can I learn? I had so many questions prepared to follow my introductory topic, and I felt it an intriguing conversation starter.
The topic barely files after a short reply from my father about his aunties that knew how to play, when I am shut down by my mother from her end of the table. Why am I so frivolous, she'd ask, why not cultivate deeper thought within me over such flimsy ideas that have no place in my head. Why do I pay attention to such things that cannot feed me when I should study better and get to a higher level of education?
I love my mother.
I adore her.
She often says, that I should be more silent and that I should try to find a deeper part of my character to embody than useless pop culture, random facts, fashion, music, or obscure history. When she does, I feel a pain in my heart. Some part of me wonders, why am I not enough?
Is it so wrong for me to enjoy such topics? To find solace in pages of yellowed Wilde scripts, obscure Spotify playlists, documentaries of Fashion Eras, the scent of long untouched encyclopedias?
What is shameful in the volume of my love for these things, that I talk of them often with every chance I get? Is it so bad that I discuss them with frequent enjoyment, eager for a balanced conversation on such thoughts with others?
I find nothing wrong with my love for it. I talk of them as a start of a conversation and see them as points to branch from towards other topics.
But apparently, Silent Waters run Deep.
Thus, to be as what my mother dreams, is to be silent, full of thought but silent, not loud and eager to share, keen for discovery as I am now. No, no, that will be wrong. I must become a sage river, silent and deep in meaning and value.
But the problem is, I don't think I am meant to be a river.
Rather, I see myself as a brook.
I laugh and gurgle, and babble as I trip over rocks and flow through shallow beds. I am not deep, so as to hide fathoms, but palm-deep, if only to show all I can give freely to the world, with candor. I do not carry boulders in my depths unbeknownst to others, I shelter some life in my slower bends, but mostly set to dance with my music leaves that float unto me as I pass from whence I came.
I am a brook, noisy and shallow, and playful.
I tug at hanging branches, guide others to greater waters, house simple joys.
But every brook cannot be underestimated.
I can be berated all the time for my "frivolity", but one must never forget from whence all comes from.
The great waters of every river known to man, all of them historic, aged, and sage for all their years, began small. Each grand river, on whose banks mankind rose in many a civilization stemmed from a tiny beginning. From the Thames that powers London, the Ganges that nurtured Varanasi, the Pasig that courses through Manila, the Seine that inspired Paris, the multi-national Danube, and even the revered Nile that fuels Cairo.
Each began small, but are recorded then, and are remembered today, as large in scale and much in value.
But think perhaps in the earlier days, before that we knew of, these mighty waters sprouted simply from small springs that flowed in laughing, babbling, noisy brooks. Before the ancients settled on its banks, these waters had probably been small-term, easily traversable, and equally easily forgettable, bubbly water sources. They only satiated the thirsty wanderer, not really cause a civilization to rise.
But there is no shame in such origins, there had been much work and time before they came to be as they are now.
Thus, I shall keep to being a brook, inconsequential and constantly laughing. A rest for the wanderer and origins of greater things. A silly stream than a reticent river.
For babbling brooks have more than meets the eye, and sometimes, clear, palm-deep waters are preferable to obscure indiscernible depths.
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