The River

Shenandoah River, Virginia

The river is real and metaphorical at the same time. Or, perhaps, a shade or two off the instant. It is real only before and after the photograph. When I look through the lens, I’m already behind the times and separate from my river. When I look at the photograph, I am further removed in time and space — there and not there. Being as if. Not being as one.

Such musings are more or less obvious. But what is not so obvious is that the river terrorizes me and makes me laugh with joy and fate as well. Or, perhaps, a shade or two this side of terror and omen. I laugh thinking about all the other people through time who have looked at rivers and seen things like that. Metaphors and such. Poetic phrases both profound and banal.

Isn’t it curious that people would spend even one second thinking about anything but the lush green, blue, brown and grey colors, and the shadows and shapes spreading across the world? Isn’t it curious that people would be there, witnessing that beauty, the fresh, windy smells, the haunting quiet split by the sound of birds and the rolling river, and want to change it all into something else?

I must admit that the need to capture, frame, crop, sharpen and compose in various ways speaks to a much larger problem. I know the river is greater than I am. I know the sky, the trees, the grass and every wild, natural life — all of it is greater than I am. And I know that it is immortal in a sense, and I am not in a sense. And that realization is the birth of Art. Or something opposed to Art. Something designed to still deep waters and keep us amused, oblivious.


The River
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