"You can never step into the same river twice."
- Heraclitus of Ephesus
If one were to drive by our house at the same time every day and look at the river, it probably would appear pretty much the same from day to day. However, when you are really looking, you realize nothing could be further from the truth. Nothing is ever the same on the river from one moment to the next; each momentary expression of form carries a quality of its own and is incredibly fleeting.
This becomes particularly evident when I have a camera in hand. Quite often, I’m paddling along and all of a sudden notice an image that really speaks to me or strikes me as beautiful, and I want to photograph it.
However, by the time I remove my camera from its case and adjust the settings, the scene has passed or changed; the irresistible geometry has dissolved. My first instinct may be to turn my kayak around and approach it again with my camera ready, or to make a mental note to photograph the area on my way back. Either way, the scene would not look exactly the same. Perhaps the texture of the water will have changed as a result of my paddling. Even if I were to wait until the water became calm and mirror-like again, I might be at a slightly different angle, which changes the whole shot.
Or the surface texture of the water might have changed, thus altering the reflection. Or the angle or intensity of sunlight might have changed. Changes in water level vary from day to day, as well, giving the appearance of a whole new world.
Even in the winter, the appearance of the river changes constantly. On days when the surface appears frozen and motionless from our porch, a closer look reveals ice and water formations in constant change.
I recall one winter morning when I looked out the window upon the river and thought there was nothing special to see. Nonetheless, I walked down to the shore and arrived just in time to witness a spectacular display of delicate shards of ice moving downriver along the shore, right past me. It was like watching the hand of an artist at work - the rhythm of the river as artist transforming the shoreline. It was a gift that woke me up for the day!
I'm awestruck by how everything on the river is in constant change. Although the element of water accentuates the transitory nature of form, this of course is not only true on the river. If you look closely, you will realize the world around us is never the same and that every single moment has the potential of speaking to you, uplifting you, or offering you a gift if you are in need of one. Take time to really see what is right in front of you, and you will be amazed. (Children are masters at this!)
Truly, there is never a dull moment!
And the obvious question is: What treasures and opportunities do we miss because we simply are not noticing? Life seems dull or redundant only when our eyes are not fully open!
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