05 Aug The River
I have always had a thing for rivers. I’m not sure I’ve ever thought about why. I enjoy sitting next to them and just watching the water flow constantly. It always grounds me.
I was reading a book this morning entitled A Life of Being, Having, and Doing Enough by Wayne Muller. He was speaking of the archetypal nature of the river in our lives when it comes to making decisions. He wrote:
If we follow our tiny stream, we will see that at every turn it makes a choice, to go right or left, over or around, or to pool up for a while, waiting to spill over. The stream knows nothing of what is ahead, is not conscious of planning for the future. It simply follows the path of least resistance, motivated by gravity. Still, how does the water “decide” to go right or left when approaching a boulder or fallen tree? Somehow, inch by inch, choices are made, perhaps joining other rivulets or creeks along the way, and by the end of the journey, if we look back, we witness the gradual, evolving birth of the stream.
Then, at the end of the chapter, he included a poem by John O’Donohue, an Irish mystic. The poem:
I would love to live
Like a river flows,
Carried by the surprise
Of its own unfolding.
Then I realized that my favorite movie/book is A River Runs Through It. I don’t believe this is coincidence. I do love the movie for more than its treatment of fly fishing and rivers. I love the connection of family and nature and spirituality. But I also love the poetics that Norman Maclean brings to his experience on the water. I love the ending of the movie. Here is a clip.
I want to spend more time with this archetype, realizing my unconscious interest. A free flowing element of nature that flows around obstacles, sometimes pools, and brings beauty to its surroundings. There are boundaries in which a river must exist, but in there lies a passion, an attack at moving forward.
Rivers are exciting. Rivers are passionate. Rivers are serene. Rivers are refreshing. Rivers house life. Rivers carry us on their backs, strong and courageous.
Norman Maclean’s last few lines of A River Runs Through It almost always brings tears to my eyes. It is powerful and beautiful. I will leave you with them:
Then in the Arctic half-light of the canyon, all existence fades to a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River and a four-count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise. Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of those rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.