impermanence

So there’s me, on the first day of Spring, noodling around the Riverwalk just as if I didn’t have anything else to do. And man, it felt like Spring. Bright and sunny, almost warm, fresh breeze. Bicyclists were out, and young mothers with strollers, and over the lunch hour all the employed people abandoned their offices and escaped the skywalk and hit the sidewalks with all the energy of spawning salmon.

So yeah, even though I had work that needed to be done, I was out walking. And here’s a true thing: you cannot walk along the Riverwalk without stopping occasionally and peeking over the balustrade to watch the river flow by. While I was doing that, I saw a milky white film of some sort, splashed out on the river. Who knows what it was — soap scum maybe, or chemical waste, or something organic roiled up by the snow melt rushing over the dam upstream. Whatever it was, my immediate reaction was disappointment and a mild distaste at the sight of it.

But then it sort of drew me in. It was almost hypnotic, the way the motion of the river shaped and reshaped the stuff, the way the color shifted with each tiny wave.

I must have watched this happen for a quarter of an hour. I can’t say it was pretty, but there was something compelling about it — something unexpectedly absorbing. The river, I knew, would shrug this stuff off, whatever it was. Even in the short time I was there, I could see the stuff gradually being disrupted by the current — broken up, disorganized, reorganized, and all while being forced inevitably downstream. There wasn’t a single moment when the stuff held a coherent shape.

I realized the only constant in this event was me. I was standing still. I wasn’t moving. I was the only fixed point in an otherwise unfixed occurrence.

So I left.

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