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September 23, 2010

I am a River Rat.  I’m not ashamed of that; many proudly claim the distinction.  Actually, I’m in pretty good company.

From childhood, I have prowled, explored and lived near the banks of a river.  It feels odd if I’m not near a river–disorienting somehow.  There is a majesty, a mystery and a mystique in the never-ending flow along a river.  Lakes are cool–and of course the ocean–but it is rivers that connect us with their living, moving, perpetually renewing stream.

I’m finally living in the big leagues.  No more placid streams or rustic backwaters for me.  Just outside my window flows one of the great rivers of the world–the Mighty Mississippi!  Not a lot of rivers have the distinction of such a powerful adjective.  It’s kinda cool, really.  And I share–just a bit–in that reflected glory.

You come to have a certain respect for a river with such an adjective.  You have to.  The Mississippi’s tranquil surface masks the awesome power below.  Sometimes, it gives you a glimpse of the lurking danger with an eddy or a turbulent current.  But the glimpse is fleeting: a brief reminder that the adjective of “mighty” is well-earned, as is the reputation that accompanies it.  As long as you are mindful, as long as you heed the warning, you have nothing to fear.  The river is your friend–as long as you give the respect due to so fickle and temperamental a friend.

Don’t get me wrong.  The Mississippi isn’t malicious.  You just have to be careful.  Kind of like the mouse that scurries between the feet of an elephant.  One false move and…  So you have to watch your step.  You have to be vigilant.

If you haven’t already noticed, the river is, for me, a metaphor for life.  It’s a journey metaphor, rich with images of stillness and beauty, and rife with the potential for calamity and chaos.  It bears us along as if on a raft–a frail vessel in close contact with the moving stream around us.  Bourne along, as it were, by fate; or perhaps by providence.  Part of the journey is to figure out which it is.

Whether tethered to a tree along the bank, moored head and stern to a wharf, or floating free with the current, from time to time it’s worth noting the reflections we see around us on the journey.  That, for me, is what this blog is about: a place to note the reflections and ponder the journey.

Hop aboard.

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