R is for row your boat

A few weeks ago, my husband walked into the kitchen singing, “Row, row, row your boat.” I smirked and continued unloading the dishwasher. He laughed and  asked if I knew the true meaning of the childhood nursery rhyme. I had to admit I hadn’t given it any thought. And so, as I put the last of the dishes away, he sang it again, this time with commentary and emphasis.

“Row, row, row, YOUR boat,” he sang, and then explained, “means to live your own life, to do your own work. Ya can’t live another person’s life for ’em, so stick to rowing your own boat. That’s good, huh?”
“Oh, I like that,” I responded, wondering if my hubby was channeling an ancient mystic.
“And how do we row?” he asked.
“Gently?” I replied, puzzled at where this was all coming from.
“Yep, they say life is meant to be lived gently with love and compassion. It means ya row gently down the stream – with life. Ya don’t fight with life or try and row upstream.  And, ya row merrily, merrily, merrily, ’cause life is meant to be lived with joy.”
“Oh, I love that analogy!” I said, convinced that hubby had gone through some deep awakening.
“But wait, there’s more!” he said grinning.
“Yes dear, because ya know, when it’s all said and done – life is but a dream!” he clapped his hands together and laughed.

Hubby confessed he’d been watching a PBS memorial tribute on the life of philosopher and spiritual teacher, Wayne Dyer, who died last year at his home in Hawaii at the age of 75. I first became aware of Wayne when I read his book, The Power of Intention.  I’ve watched many of his PBS appearances over the years but had never heard the nursery rhyme analogy. Wayne was a gifted motivational speaker and author. His legacy lives on through his many books and PBS appearances. He was one of the great spiritual teachers of our time.

There are so many teachers, for every generation, in every part of the world – guideposts and life lessons all around us if we simply have the eyes to see and the ears to hear. I’m reminded, by the last line of that nursery rhyme, “life is but a dream”, of another great teacher from another time with a similar message.

“This place is a dream.
Only a sleeper considers it real.
Then death comes like dawn,
and you wake up laughing
at what you thought was your grief.”


So dear travelers, live your life, do your work, share your gifts. Live gently, with joy and compassion because one day you will awaken and find that life is but a dream.

~ Namaste


11 thoughts on ““R” is for Row your boat

  1. Beautiful! Never knew that a rhyme that we knew so well had so much to teach about life. The other day, my daughter was telling me about her dream and how she felt it was so real that I sang this song to her and asked the same question, “Whether this life was a dream too?” She said “Yes” I think so. I am a huge fan of Wayne dyer and his works and they have profoundly helped me many times.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love it! Many of the old nursery rhymes and fairy tales are really about some pretty morbid events, so this definitely lightens it up. I will be singing row you boat for a while now.

    Liked by 1 person

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