Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Deep? You've come to the right place

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

The babies have decided that this is their going to bed lullaby. If I try and sing anything else, say, Rockabye baby, or Hush little baby, don't you cry, or my own favourite, Bring me little water, Sylvie, they pop their heads up and insist, "Woe, Woe, Woe" in ever more urgent tones. So Woe, woe, woe it is, over and over and over again, until they both fall asleep.

Usually this takes about twenty minutes, but tonight, due to an unfortunate late afternoon car trip resulting in an unfortunate late afternoon nap, it took an hour. Seven til eight pm I spent singing Row row row your boat, over and over. It became like a meditation, like following my breath...innnnnn....and ooooouuutttt.... which I did for five days once, on a retreat. And I realised what incredible layers there are to that simple song, how it encapsulates wisdom of ages in its innocuous lines. A guide to life, all there in a child's rhyme!


Row, row, row: You have to be active, not passive. You'll need to do a bit of rowing in life - don't just sit there!
your boat: You can only row your boat, not anyone else's. Keep your mind on your own business.
Gently: There's no need to be frantic about it. Go placidly among the strife and turmoil of this world, etc
down: Don't bother fighting against the current. Take your natural path in life.
the stream: It's okay. It's a stream, not a raging torrent. You are safe.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily: Maintain optimism. It is what it is. It's a stream. You're rowing in it. Be happy about it.
Life is but a dream: This is the truly deep bit. Don't take it all too seriously, it's just a dream. Which poses the question, what do we wake up to, when we wake up from this dream that is life?


Deborah said...

Too too cute in that photo!

I still get a special squeeze of my heart when I see my girls holding hands.

Singing - it's Toora loora loora lie around here - our own special version, which doesn't bear much resemblance to the original. But we must be much meaner parents than you; we sing it once, and then we're out the door. Of course, the Miss Sevens are nearly the Misses Eight now, and Miss Ten has long since grown out of songs, so it's a little easier.

I do like your exegesis.

Clark said...

Have you tried the extended version?

After the first very well known verse:

Row row row your boat
Underneath the sea
HA HA tricked you I'm a submarine

Row row row your boat
Gently down the stream
If you see a crocodile,
don't forget to scream... AAAGH!

Rock rock rock your boat
Gently to and fro
Wibbledy, wobbledy, wibbledy, wobbledy
Into the water you go... SPLASH!

Heh. Now that I've written that out maybe it's not such a good bedtime song... In any case, google has a wealth of further verses to share.

Anonymous said...

i tore apart baa baa black sheep in much the same way when the twinkle was about 6 months old. over and over, i sang it, wondering about the messages of servitude and charity - who was that little boy who lived down the lane?

StephLove said...

An hour of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat"? Woe, indeed. We have six or seven lullabies we cycle through here.

When I was in grad school we used to like to analyze Frosty the Snowman (the half-hour tv special, not the song). We had the feminist version, the Marxist version, the Freudian version, etc. Good times.

tiff said...

Loved this. They are getting so big!