Sunday, June 17, 2012


I was at an impasse.  I had wanted to write about the wedding, the death, and the adventures since, but I couldn't think of where to start.  Sure, it could have been possible to compartmentalize.  However, to convey the emotional impact of each situation, each must be explained as a part of the other.  So, I'm coming to the conclusion, two weeks later, to just say to hell with it and go from here.

As a bit of background, this block started a day after I realized I couldn't write anything.  I went for an early morning run around our new apartment complex.  It was my first morning run in ages, and it felt damn good.  Well, until the part where my feet hitched and I flopped full-force on my ass.  Still, that was hilarious in its own way.

Throughout the past two weeks, I kept trying to think of where to start.  I finally received a new resource in the mail - Oblique Strategies, a Brian Eno product.  The concept is simple - pull a card, and do what it says.  There's no questions as its all interpretational.  The card I pulled did not make things easier:

Humanize something free of error.

Death, weddings, car trips and traffic, making friends and acquaintances - these are all ALREADY human traits, and as such, were already prone to error.  I have several memories that all tie back to water.  Hell, once I dragged a girlfriend through a forest and over a river to leave a memoriam to a dead relative.  I think it was a phone, and I was wearing white pants.  Both were utterly destroyed that day by falling into said river.

A river is perfect and free of error, until tampered by humans.  This is much like humans are perfect, until tampered by other humans. There are no governing laws or requirements on the river, no guidelines or performance quotas.  Just, "Go, and be wet." That's it.  Humans are much the same creatures, but we constantly have to stick our forks in the mud and tinker with each other.  Even when it's not intended, we have influence over others. 

We draw our notions of failure and defeat from others.  Water is not conscious in the same ways that we are.  It has not had someone explaining to go left over right, and how one direction is fundamentally wrong.  Yet, we allow other people to tell us what is the right way to live, and what is wrong- rather, we even elect people to dictate this.

Now, these same people can dictate the flow of the river.  After all, success is a notion derived for a river, not from other rivers.  However, a river's success will always be measured in its ability to go with the flow.  There will be weakness in the beds and banks that will be hammered relentlessly until new streams give birth to new rivers.  There is always a way with persistence.

Rivers suffer what could be seen as an unusual triumphant ebullience from flooding and swelling.  Humans do much the same, but consider it as fighting and feasting.  When rain comes into our lives, and death casts that familiar shadow, we find a way to celebrate joy - the joy in being alive.  We move fast and hard, swelling on food and drink, laughing, and crying.  Yet, we try to choke the river as it conquers the rain in its life.  It doesn't just fight the beast: It devours the rain whole, the swollen stomach filling its shores and nearby towns, showing that if it can conquer one beast, it can take them all.

Rapids and rough spots are the changes of its daily life.  These bring a certain joy to the water, shifting the ways in which it flows and falls.  The water knows it will be water afterwards, so what's the worry?  We view them with horror and stress.  We do not want the challenges that may filter and shape us, so we stand rigid in adversity, letting the situation sculpt us like a stone in the rapids making us dull and inconspicuous.  These are the defining quirks of a river, yet misery humans avoid.

Sometimes you just have to completely let go of something, in order to start again - in order to make something even better.  The river flows freely, unable to avoid the point where two streams form a larger body.  They merge, beginning life in a way that is fundamentally the same in nature as it was before, but completely different in form and functionality.  It has contributing factors and greater momentum to power through the harder obstacles in life.  Humans take of this art willingly through unions and marriages.  We combine our forces to tackle the rapids and watermills.  We combine our forces to break down walls, and to surge dams.

Years ago, I was told the only way to combine these streams for maximum efficacy, is to let some of the individuality be lost in the merger.  In later years, I have found this to be some of the worst advice I have ever received.  Sure, you can split the bills, household chores, but even when water merges, you can tell by the minerals and stones where it came from.

And that's what it comes down to: a river has minerals and stones.  When people walk over them, they can be sharp, smooth, big, small, oblong, or square.  What we all need is less focus on the river, and more on being the river.   We need to be the water, flowing, proudly bearing our perseverance, and remembering that the ones stepping on us, don’t define us - we define their interaction with us.

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