I clambered slowly and carefully over the rocks, and settled on a smooth one at the water’s edge. I let the sights and sounds cascade over me. It felt so renewing to be there and absorb some of the energies pouring from this artery of life that I’ve communed with these last few years. Though, as always, I had plenty to think about, I tried to let go of thinking and just feel the moment and sensations. It took several minutes. I slowly became aware of the rich scent of the river, which was punctuated by the aroma of decaying foliage all around.
As is our human habit, my mind was eager to grab hold of some thing, thoughts being one way we tend to “verify” our individuality and so reinforce the notion of our separateness from life. I gently unfocused, and tried to simply feel the flow of the riverway. At first I sensed the breezes, the warm sunshine on my skin and the shimmering kaleidoscope on the surface of the water. Occasionally my eyes were attracted to the minnows just below the surface, or my attention was pulled to the tweets of the field sparrows behind me, or downey woodpecker chipping away on the overhanging dead branch. I recall noting (happily) that directly above me was an American Elm. And of course, just downriver stood a great blue heron, patiently watching for breakfast in the shallows, but also, I knew, keenly aware of my presence.
Yet I hadn’t made this trek to the river (my first in eight weeks), my being wasn’t drawn here, to identify species. So whenever my intellect began to ponder such specifics, an aspect of “me” softly turned this labeling lens out of focus, allowing a broader view. It’s a different way of knowing, one I often try to tap into when fully immersed in making a painting. This shift exposed the subtle movement of everything flowing and in process at once. It’s like experiencing life as a verb rather than freezing and ordering it into discreet nouns. Akin to the transition from identifying the sound of one instrument in an orchestra, to attending to the full harmonics of the symphony vibrating in one’s being. It may not jibe well with so much of what our culture is built upon, but it was precisely the tonic I’d been sorely missing and deeply appreciated.