1. A River is Timeless
"Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time?" -Hermann Hesse
Across the river I watch a 40 year old man in black shorts sitting cross legged on a deck with his fishing line slack in the water. I picture him in that same pose 30 years ago-10 years old and sunburned waiting patiently for a trout or bass. Even further back in time, it is not hard to imagine when this river meant life to those who fished and navigated it. Past the too green lawns and carefully manicured floral arrangements, there is unclaimed rustic natural beauty. Wooded steep slopes and gnarled downed trees stake claim to the water's edge. This is the timeless beauty that draws me.
2. We Are All One
"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 the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters." -Norman Maclean
We float past in our kayaks-float because it is so quiet we don't want to break the silence with the paddles. A heron the size of a 10 year old child lifts off before us and his 6 foot wingspan unfolds with the sound you make when you shake out a bath towel fresh from the dryer- wom! womf! Then he lifts into the air with breath stopping grace only to repeat this feat as we disrupt his fishing three more times in the hour long trip. Turtles sun themselves on logs as I drift by. Occasionally, an otter glides just under the surface. It seems as soon as I identify the shape it disappears into the mysteries underwater. Bald eagles found along the river are brave enough to soar above us or dine on fish along the shore. The eagle like the heron, is disrupted at dinner much like when I receive an unsolicited phone call at 6:00 p.m. Depending on the season, trout, bass, or salmon glide and jump near the kayak as a reminder that this river belongs to them and they sustain this place.
3. "Go With the Flow" is Dangerous
"Life is like the river, sometimes it sweeps you gently along and sometimes the rapids come out of nowhere." -Emma Smith
The silence gives me time to contemplate and compare the present to my life journey. The river changes each day, its currents and obstacles new each trip. One day there is smooth water and easy travels and the next a rock or downed tree has appeared seemingly out of nowhere. The river, with an agenda of its own, draws me into the current and the path with the most obstacles. If I do not resist by watching for problems, steering, and paddling, my vessel would surely be beached, stalled, or maybe even swamped. A sure steady resistance to avoid these traps makes for a serene trip. I know the river draws me into danger and the lull of the path of least resistance, so I must be aware to keep the path I choose.
4. Appreciate the Unexpected
"We must begin thinking like a river if we are to leave a legacy of beauty and life for future generations." -David Brower
As certain as I am to experience obstacles, I know I also will have the unexpected pleasures found along the path of the river. Sometimes, when it seems as though the river is fraught only with obstacles, it smooths out and a sudden miracle of natural wonder appears out of nowhere. Whether flora or fauna, it is that fleeting moment when I recognize my great fortune and remember to be grateful for all my life experiences-whether smooth sailing or rough waters.
It is these times of gratitude that I rekindle my calling and hope to leave a legacy within education.