The River: A Nature of Change and Continuity

The river teaches you to know change and continuity. Currents change, depths change, banks and shores change, surfaces change, bottoms change, the directions change, the things floating or stuck in the water change, living creatures change, dead creatures change, seasons and weather change. On and on it goes. The change is so great that it feels constant and thus, can become difficult to separate from now to the next.

On balance, the list of change runs longer than the list of continuances. Intriguingly, however, you learn that the items of continuity—when compared to change—are limited in number but vaster in scope. The presence of upstream and downstream is always there. So, too, is the wetness of water, the existence of out-of-doors, and the grade or slope of land. While dozens of things change within them, the handful of constants nearly covers the earth.

To expect the river, or life, to choose either change or continuity is foolish. Both will be true. Both will be interlocked. Both may blend or co-exist in harmony but, then again, they certainly may not. Perhaps that is one of the definitions of a difficult life—where change and continuity jar, clang, and clash together.

The river gives us a hint as to a third feature, something other than change and continuity. This is your experience—each experience occurs through an individual encounter in a quick moment, the place where change is at its sharpest and clearest. Yet, put together, your experiences may form into something closer to the higher constants, such as the presence of water and air. You have the chance to learn enduring lessons from constant changes, spanning all the currents, all the shoals, and all the rest. Your awareness, filtering, and retention of experience, woven into a coherent story, can move from knowledge toward wisdom. This is part of how I see you and history.