Once upon a time, there was a river who wondered where they came from. Following upriver they noticed becoming more shallow and narrow until they were actually a stream. They wondered, am I a river or am I a stream?
Then they followed the stream up and up until they became a pond. Am I a river, a stream, or a pond? They found themself on the other side of the pond and went upstream until they were a swamp. Am I a river, a stream, a pond, or a swamp?
Then they turned into an underground spring that fed the swamp. They followed the spring upstream up until they were water dripping from a melting glacier. Am I a river, a stream, a pond, a swamp, or a glacier?
Then the weather got cold and they realized they were snow. Am I a river, a stream, a pond, a swamp, a glacier, or snow? Then they stretched up and discovered they were a cloud. Am I a river, a stream, a pond, a swamp, a glacier, snow, or a cloud?
Just about this time the river was beginning to get a bit confused because they were both flowing through the woods and looking down on the woods. But they kept wondering where they came from.
Before long the cloud got lower and lower and they realized they were a fog bank. Am I a river, a stream, a pond, a swamp, a glacier, snow, a cloud, or a fog bank? As the weather shifted a bit, the fog bank slipped into the vast blue ocean. And the river wondered, am I a river, a stream, a pond, a swamp, a glacier, snow, a cloud, fog, or the ocean?
Reaching the ocean, the river became even more confused because it was so big and was quite salty. And it became a bit more difficult to find its way upstream to anything.
Becoming a bit sad, the river felt somewhat lost because they still couldn’t figure out where they came from, and now they couldn’t find their way home.
Then a salmon swam by. With its keen sense of smell and direction, it recognized the river as where it hatched – as its home – and said, “Don’t worry! Just follow me!”
And the salmon swam and swam and swam until it found the mouth of the river, leading them back home.
After such a long journey, the river realized they were not only a river, but were indeed also a stream, a pond, a swamp, a glacier, snow, a cloud, a fog bank, and the ocean. They were all of those things. And most of all they were happy to be home.