Updated: Jun 23, 2020
“I choose to listen to the river for a while, thinking river thoughts, before joining the night and the stars.”
If you've spent any time with me at all you'll understand exactly why I love both this quote and its author, Ed Abbey. River thoughts. Removed from distractions. Left only with the sounds and smells of the woods and the water. The flora and fauna. A rare place where my tangled-in-a-Tag-Alder-mind untangles itself. A place I can turn off 42 of the 43 channels simultaneously playing in my head and focus on only one. Where I can pick out the strings section in the symphony of chaos.
Of course my excuse is that I go to fish. And I do. But secretly I don't go to the river for the fish, I go to the fish for the river. The river that is indifferent to my chaos. The fluid river that understands constant change. The river that is both beautiful and dangerous.That gives life and takes it. The river that is never stagnant. That is born new again after every storm. The river that takes a longer view - not caught in the human immediacy of minutes and hours and days - but lives in the natural world of years and decades and centuries. The river that has endured both the insult and the compliment of time. The river that is connected to all living things - the life-giving artery of the forest.
When I need to mend myself I go to the river, cast my problems into its cool steady current and slowly retrieve its wise reply. Sometimes I'll even fish. Watching for the slight sip of a bejeweled trout. Getting lost in the rhythm of the cast. My mind now focused on one seemingly simple task - connecting with something else living and vibrant, and then releasing it. Letting it go. Giving it back.
River thoughts. When the world is too much with me.
William Wordsworth perhaps said it best:
"The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;— Little we see in Nature that is ours; We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon! This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon; The winds that will be howling at all hours, And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers; For this, for everything, we are out of tune; It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn; So might I, standing on this pleasant lea, Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn; Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea; Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn."
Sometimes I go the river and think river thoughts.