I’ve logged more experience than most with simplicity and the complexity you discover inside simplicity, minimalism and asocial behavior, endurance and landscape.
Here is the truth: I think some deep wisdom inside me (a) sensed the stress, (b) was terrified for me, and (c) gave me something new and hard to focus on in order to prevent me from lapsing into a despair coma — and also to keep me from having a jelly jar of wine in my hand.
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Chris Dombrowski lives in Missoula, Montana, where he works as a river guide and teaches writing. His most recent book of poems is Earth Again.
My friend says that a life properly lived is like a river. I take this to mean that headlong shots through roaring box canyons are inevitable, along with meandering, wandering main channels and high, roiling waters. There will be drought-drained shallows in which trout languish; winter, when the dark water is a spill of ink down the page of snow; and eddies, too, the hypnotic, elliptical movement of water running back on itself, around and around.
What’s befuddling is that I can’t figure out whether our days are passing at warp speed or at a geologic pace. If I could gain some distance on them, they would probably resemble a large Western river in runoff: so brimming at the banks that the casual observer might think the water is moving leisurely over stones, but soon a cottonwood trunk or fence post comes hurtling past, and the current’s true velocity becomes evident.
I had anchored my boat on an inside bend of the snowmelt-fed Rock Creek. Whoever christened that body of water a “creek” had clearly never attempted to cross it in June, when the burly current threatens to unfoot the knee-deep wader.