I was happily surprised to see the now dried pale golden grasses were three to four feet tall. It takes a little effort to forge through them and the light brambles and brush, up to the natural riparian buffers along a waterway—a biological term I learned from my hydrologist brother in law, who’s been on my mind. These are also in a way buffers that, once crossed, in a small yet effective way offer a slight barrier into a sanctuary somewhat shielded from the human-built world.
As is my habit, I let myself be guided without thought and picked a spot, where I perched on a rock. Though some might call it “zoning out” I prefer considering it “zoning in” — both to the place I am and in a delicate balance “within” my self. The time flew. I let the sound of the rippling water soothe my mind. Though the water was flowing I was aware of how quiet and still it felt on this gray overcast morning. Initially not much seemed to be “happening.” The water was cold and clear as glass, fully revealing the river bottom, but with my limbs condensed in a squatting position, I stayed warm.
There were just a few chirps and only a couple fluttering wings within view along the bank. Slowly I noticed that little sprinklings of leaves floated down when the faint breezes blew, released like handfuls of confetti by the few trees that had any left to toss. What for a year had been receptors for collecting energy for the growing trees gracefully merged into the current and became part of the river. They were already only half visible as they floated by. I didn’t realize how long I’d been poised on the bank until until my knee alerted me it needed to unbend. Almost an hour had passed.
As I stood, right in front of me multi-colored leaves long underwater caught my eyes. I snapped a few photos. For me taking photos is often a way to get more attuned to what I’m immersed within. I became conscious of the bright reflections on the surface competing for recognition with what was below. The depths were lush and rich; bright freshness and decay were complexly intertwined. Mostly I see the immediate appearance of people, but often am too self-involved to discern what’s going on below the surface in their lives. That requires awareness beyond myself, practice in being open, and perhaps allowing space and time.
Over decades the tough bark achieved by age-old trees becomes soft, fragrant humus; over aeons the solid rocks steadily transform into the grains of quartz on the ancient river bottom; my life’s presence is a passing shadow in this illusion time.
Although my digital device “captured” the imagery of both above and below, when I look at the resulting photo, it’s hard to find discreet disconnected objects upon which to focus. As if the flowing melange was in effect more “real” than any “things” we strive to identify. Seems a fitting analogy: we intellectually desire to comprehend and “make order” of our world, label things and people as a way to assure ourselves. Yet the “reality” is, it’s all in motion (as are we). So, even as we might desire to make quick assessments based on the “solid” input of our senses, filtered through our learned experiences, it’s mostly just an abstraction our minds create. When I tune out my mind a bit, a different way of knowing reveals the swirling waters within which we‘re all just joyful bits of melting confetti.