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  • Writer's picturedavidauten

River



Everything is more than one thing, an ending likewise a beginning, a vanishing also an opening, to some new form of presence, the universe never wasting anything, and waste never only waste. Death is sad. But not only sad. Love is amazing. But not only amazing. Though every event, each happening, all persons and individual places produce the illusion of a singularity, this could not be further from the truth. An hour lost in traffic is time found for a phone call to a sibling unexpectedly having a most horrendous day. The welcomed news of a promotion at work is also the unwelcome advent of more stress, responsibilities, and anxiety one could have done without. The joy of a baby’s birth is the loss of a couple’s privacy, and the sorrow of a friend’s passing is also the happy remembering of how because of that relationship life will never be the same.


It is too easy to label this good and that bad, this sacred and that profane, when actually our lives are moving in a forever stream, changing, curling, bobbing, bubbling, and dipping in ways far too delightful, dreadful, and dynamic to either predict or pin down. No person ever steps in the same river twice, observed Heraclitus, for it is not the same river, and we are not the same person.


Life is an untold number of waterways, a panoply of becoming, not a monolith but a multiplicity, a manyness, inviting our awareness, our engagement, and above all, our passion. It seems there is no permanence, and no need for it, for then our movement would cease to embody the swaying spontaneity and terrible beauty of unpredictability it has always known. The only key to moving well is being in the moment. Then, once in the moment, the intuition to bend becomes gradually clearer, working with whatever comes. Lao Tzu made a wonderful observation about the nature of such pliancy. He noticed human beings are born soft and supple; dead, they are stiff and hard. Plants are born tender and pliant; dead, they are brittle and dry. Thus whoever is stiff and inflexible is a disciple of death, and whoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life. For the hard and stiff will be broken. The soft and supple will prevail.


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