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August 25, 2006


He started as a little spring on a mountain, a tiny gurgling brook way up high in the thin air, barely a trickle of cool water. He flowed gently through meadows above tree-line and cascaded over rocks, slick with green algae. To the path he followed came more water and he grew in power, and as the sun played through him and dappled the earth, he also grew warmer.

He entered the shade of tall pine trees and spread wide over a pebbly bed where salmon swam against him and water ouzels dived beneath his surface for food. He carved a channel through soft stone and wound a steady gate towards his home.

Sometimes he would be deep and his surface would be smooth, like solid, green glass, marred only occasionally by the tail of a tench or the upwelling of his hidden current oozing over a deeply submerged obstruction.

At other times, he would approach a boulder and rise onto it, mounding in layer-upon-layer of almost transparent liquid, gradually removing the rock atom-by-atom and then easing away and funneling through this channel or that into a pool of swirling relief danced upon by off-white bubbles.

But it was not always this easy and at times the path he took involved great turbulence. He came upon terrain with a dragon's spine and tail; rough and abrasive to his intention. He flowed around and through, he leapt and twisted and mixed with the air, and gushed out through a mouth arrayed with fangs. But on he flowed, for this was his purpose and nothing would stop him.

And he found that even in the roughness and resistance his nature was fluid and that he would be carried effortlessly around the stones. He came to see that even when he was torn apart he was still a river, that even when he mixed with the air he would return and continue onwards with his journey.

As he watched himself he noticed that, though he seemed to flow from here to there, he was not moving; he always flowed the same way. At first he noticed that the same piece of river-bed was covered by him again-and-again but then he saw that it was always covered by him and that he was both a brook in the mountains and roaring white-water at the same time.

However, he did move because he evolved, and his mighty power and ceaseless yearning gnawed away at solid rock. Over millions of years he became deeper and his path to the sea became more direct. Though the water at the source could not know the sea and the sea could not know the source, little-by-little, the path between them was made straight.

He flowed strongly in the middle where he knew his course and was confident through his own inertia and where he was drawn along by the space left by the passing of that which came before; new water flowed where old had been by which the past foretold the future.

He slowed towards the sides and flowed backwards in eddies spiraling out and then returning to the flow after a time. In this way he rested and looked back upon where he had been. And sometimes he would wonder if he was being lazy, to circle like this, to flow backwards, seemingly away from his final destination. But then he looked down and saw minnows deep within, darting around, safe from the current, and he felt a deep love for them.

As he rotated in an eddie, brushing through reeds and carrying pieces of wood away from the bank, he saw that he was widening and drawing objects into himself and then carrying them along in his stronger flow.

Then people came and splashed sheets of sparkling water over each other. They laughed and played in him and waded around with pants rolled above knees, and white cotton dresses clinging to goose-bumped skin.

Finally, he flowed gently around a bend and came face-to-face with the sea. He could not tell where he ended and the sea began. The sea was so vast and flowed nowhere; it simply was. He widened into a vast estuary and mixed with the salt-water. Whales and dolphins swam in him. To be so wide and so deep brought him tears of rain and the wind created waves on his surface which the droplets pitted.

And after a while he was no more and all that remained, deep within, was life, abundant life.


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