Friday, September 14, 2012

river of life, stream of consciousness

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of nature, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover I had not lived.  
-Thoreau
By the end of high school, I wanted to run for the city. I know now that most young people feel something like that - that they've outgrown their lives or that there's something bigger waiting for them. Instead, I chose a college in the middle of Amish farms and then dreamt of transferring to the big school in the city where my friend attended. But now I am here - in what, the second largest city in our country? And the most diverse, most spread out, and I'd state pretty confidently, the furthest from nature. On the east coast you drive 10 minutes out of a city, or take a train for a short time, and you're there, in the middle of what feels like nowhere after escaping the shadow of tall buildings and all kinds of streets crisscrossing over and under and through each other. Here, you get on a freeway and drive for miles of city or suburbia. The only place to escape it is up, winding through canyons to unbelievable houses perched on stones or wooden legs.

In the Bible, the psalmists - poets and songwriters - write of water as a a lifeline. There's the good shepherd who leads his flock beside still waters, and the tree planted near a stream who's fruit never fails. It makes me wonder how so many people here survive without something flowing nearby. I'm not writing this to rant, only to explain why, when I realized I needed a vacation, I chose to be close to a river. I needed to hear a flow and see something bigger than myself, but this time something that wasn't man made. The trees and green things grew untamed around it, and I felt a certain relief to be in a place where nothing was manicured. (Maybe it's not a coincidence that since I've been back, I removed my toenail polish and haven't gotten a pedicure, even with bruised nails, and some yellow from always having them colored.)

I've also been very quiet. I haven't written much at all, even with attempts to jumpstart myself. I'm taking a class that starts in a few weeks, and I'm counting on some unseen inner resources to sense the shift and come up with some good ideas. I've been trying to pay attention to what's living - around me and in me - and have been asking for that water to flow, if not in rivers around me, then in springs in me and out of me. And I'm trying to spot indifference - those stagnant waters that look harmless but can kill.


No comments:

Post a Comment