The River & The Bridge

There I am, as new as the sun coming up over the edge of the earth, reflecting on the magnificence of the river.

Ignoring time, I instinctively jump into the river and let the current take me, it doesn’t matter where I go and I don’t care that I left my shoes behind. I explore all the parts of the river – the fast parts, the slow parts, the warm parts, the cool parts.

By afternoon, I’ve mastered the river. I know the best places to float, to dive, and to drift. As people come by, I tell them what I know. They’re impressed. I feel good about it: being a master.

But as the sun starts dropping – Wait! The sun goes down too? – as the sun starts dropping, I realize I’ll have to get out of the river. Not for a few hours, but it’s inevitable, just as it’s understood that the trees will lose their leaves and the cicadas will cease to sing.

And then I notice the people on the other side of the river. At least I think they’re people. They look different than what I’m used to.

And I can tell by the way they stand that they’re afraid of the water, which runs faster and angrier along their shore.

So I get to work.

I cut down trees. I move stones. And though my back aches and my legs shiver standing there in the rushing current of the river, I know that my whole day has led to this effort. I know the river. I’m not afraid of the river. This is why I can build.

There is a deep joy in my work, even as the pain enters my body because I know that what I’ll leave behind, after the night makes us all disappear — that great idea turned into love — will be here tomorrow. My pace picks up. I’m working double-time, and singing a song to the sky.

But even with the drive of a celestial calling, I experience a lonely, almost chilling feeling that I’m not going to finish.

That’s when I look to the people I came with. Some are still frolicking in the river, but most are busy like me, working at great speed to do the thing they’re called to do – building castles, hollowing logs, digging holes, dancing for Gods…

We all have our way.

With more time behind us than in front, we each see a different path forward, and our conviction becomes stronger and our singing becomes louder as the day fades. That’s the effect the night has on us. That’s why we should thank the sun for falling.

But it’s hard to build a legacy on our own short timeline when so much of that time is spent figuring out what we’re supposed to be doing in the first place.

So, there we are in the twilight, wading in the river, on the edge of the river, submerged in the river, pregnant with legacy, turning our breath into song, and doing what we believe to be our most important work.

We work side by side, whistling our tunes, but not necessarily in unison – that’s the cost of chasing our dreams.

Each of us feels our own conviction and its intoxicating. We request that others follow our beat and join our effort so we can finish, but none of us are able to let go of our own, individual progress. We refuse to stop humming our hard-earned hymns.

It’s only as the sun makes its way back over the far side of the earth, and the figures on the other side of the river turn away, and we all become shadows against shadows, that we put down our tools and begin to hear the beauty in the chorus of the river, the cicadas, and us.

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