“Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time?” That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future.”
― Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha
I was born on an island in the middle of a great raging river that once upon a time flowed majestically out to the Atlantic Ocean. The island was so large that it was easy to forget it was bordered by water. We didn’t spend Sundays sitting on its banks having picnics and swimming or depend on it for food. We crossed over the river on large concrete bridges, safely ensconced in our cars, barely acknowledging the dark murky waters below.
Until the 1980s, it was common practice to clear the island’s sewers by pumping untreated sewage into the river. When the first European settlers explored this river they found it inhabited by people who recognized the source of life the river offered. By the time I was born this reverence had been lost.
Last November, Montreal, Canada’s second-largest city, once again began dumping untreated sewage into the St Lawrence river. The city said the dump was necessary while work was carried out to replace aging parts of the waste treatment system. Signs advising against touching the water were posted on the banks of the river directly opposite Montreal’s main port area.
When you think of Huatulco, chances are you marvel about the beaches and ocean life. However, one of the most luxurious things for me is the intricate arteries of rivers that flow down the Sierra Madre and make their way to the Pacific Ocean. I still live by a river and there are no words to express how I felt called home to this timeless marvel that existed before any of us and hopefully will outlast our presence.
In the evening I like to go down to the river and lie down on a large stone that is a short walk from the shore, it is the perfect size for two people to lie back and watch the sky. The stone is an island a million times smaller than the one I was born on, but I can extend my arm and let my fingers drag through the cool water.
Unlike the river of my childhood, the river of my adult life is bursting forth with life, nurturing its shorelines with lush vegetation and constantly reminding me of its majesty.
See you next month,