‘We’ll Cross Every River As We Get There’

The informant is a freshman at the University of Southern California. She provides some background information about where she is from and how she was raised in America after migrating from Ethiopia and introduces an Ethiopian proverb she learned from her family.  

Me: “Start with telling me a little bit about your dad, maybe who he was, and about how he told you the proverb.  Then you can tell me what he told you and why the saying may or may not be significant to your life.”


E: “Okay, so I was born in Ethiopia and immigrated here to the states when I was younger…but I was raised in an Ethiopian household, so that’s like my entire upbringing, culturally, heritage wise. My dad is a really cool guy. Probably my favorite person, like in life. Um, He parents better through proverbs, so anytime I have like an issue or a problem in my life, he’ll always hit me with one, and his favorite one to tell me growing up…um, I used to worry a lot and be like a really stressed out person all the time…and he would always tell me…’we’ll cross every river as we get there.’ And It’s basically describing a story of, like a farmer with his sheep and his flock, and how he can stand with them in a field and…maybe stress about any dangers that might come in the future or you know some predator that may come and steal his sheep or eat his sheep or something like that, or one of the sheep could get lost…there’s a million things to worry about but if you let your mind deviate on those thoughts then you kind of forget about what’s currently happening in the present moment. So the proverb is if there’s a river that you have to cross, you worry about that river when you get to that river…for now you just stay in your place.”  


This proverb is especially useful because I get very anxious about things that will happen in the future or that I may have little to no control over. To be able to remind myself of this saying that basically says to take it one step at a time, is personally therapeutic for me, so I think I can relate to the participant’s understanding of the proverb as well.