When I walked toward the river yesterday, I was so cold. I knew I couldn’t walk the length of the Esplanade photographing its wintry landscape but I felt compelled to try. I had not been to the river in a long time. Rivers have been on my mind of late.
I’ve been thinking about rivers and how they branch and what you can find in those branches over time. How rivers can run deep, they can run shallow, they shape the land even as the land shapes the flow of the waters.
Of late both a song and a poem about rivers periodically run through my mind. The song, composed by Sam Cooke, begins …
I was born by the river in a little tent
Oh, and just like the river I’ve been running ever since
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gon’ come, oh yes it will …
The poem, as written by Langston Hughes, opens …
I’ve known rivers:
I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the
flow of human blood in human veins.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers. …
My fingers already freezing, I made it to the river’s edge and began walking along an icy stretch. I looked around waiting for something to catch my attention. I watched where the sunlight fell. Finally I came to a point, as may always be the case, when I had to decide how much further I could safely continue versus turning back.
I paused, took a deep breath and looked around. I planted my feet and took a few photos. Right there. That was all I had. Just that given moment before I had to race into the nearest shop to warm myself. Later as I scrolled through the few pictures captured I was glad that I had decided to take action in that given moment. What to do in a given moment? That is the question I ponder as I follow rivers and as I do my best to follow the daily news.
It is a deluge. A constant stream of information. A co-mingling of truth, lies, opinion, jargon and drama spread with too much rapidity across social media platforms, often without deep thought or editing. And not just at the Presidential level. The profound nature of the changes taking place right now in human history across this planet is quite breath-taking. It is paralyzing to some, invigorating to others, and then there is everyone in between. For me, I am learning, as by the river, to pause and take a deep breath, and then to decide what I can do, from where I am, at a given moment.
I’m not sure when I will be returning to the river, at least the Charles River. Too cold right now but Spring will come. The bared branches arching over the water will soon enough be green.
Sources & Additional Reading
The Negro Speaks of Rivers by Langston Hughes
A Change is Gonna Come by Sam Cooke
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