The River

Vignettes

I decided to float along, but there was no longer anything there anymore. All of the ships and the leaves had passed, passed by the building and past the place where I was standing in the grasses watching the river go by, slowly, faster now. I realized that I was alone in my own universe and there was nothing left to do but watch the sea and stars and river. The mosquitos tested me — they would never stop eating me, I had to leave this place, and I walked away up to drier land. Swamps are no place to contemplate, the constant burning itch. There was only one place to relieve the sensation and that was in the river. I turned back and shifted towards it, measuring its strength and identifying places to exit. I hoped it was clean enough, because I sure felt dirty. It had been two or three days since I had bathed, in a waterfall. I was covered in sweat and dirt, and now mosquito bites. I plunged myself into the river and felt relief instantly. It carried me downstream as I attmpted to swim against it, then with it. Part of me feared crocodiles or strange fish but I thought there should be none so far north. A woman cannot live all her life in fear of bathing in a river! Nevertheless the current made me uneasy that I was moving far in a direction I wasn’t sure I wanted to go. South, I was headed, it must be. I tried to enjoy and float along. I sang, “Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down,” as I lay on my back. Everything’s okay, I thought, as I doused my hair in the river’s waters. I hoped everything would be okay. I would have to make my way back up north to get my things in the abandoned house I had taken up.

Bridge under troubled water
When you’re weary, feeling small
When tears are in your eyes, I’ll dry them all (all)
I’m on your side, oh, when times get rough
And friends just can’t be found
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
When you’re down and out
When you’re on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you (ooo)
I’ll take your part, oh, when darkness comes
And pain is all around
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Sail on silver girl
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine
Oh, if you need a friend
I’m sailing right behind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind

I was a lone traveler. But travelling need not be so lonely, when you’re your own friend, and you’re innocent, doing no harm to anyone, you have nothing to feel guilty for, and you live with a clean soul. This is a precondition for happiness. I smiled and caught a branch floating next to me with my hand. I remembered reading in the Tao te Ching that we must always be as circumspect as someone living in the jungle. I wanted to live in harmony with nature, not contend with it, and the muscles in my body relaxed as I became one with the river.

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