The river flowed on looking its darkest…

That fog blanketed the world outside was evident by a particular quality of light reflected on the wall of the bedroom and the long high pensive weeep, swurrr sounds starlings seemed to make on a cool, dimmed day.

Later cycling to the river the fog had lifted just a little but the sun was still filtered, glowing white and wide through cloud layer, the air sharp with cold. The river was brown and full from recent rain with a glossy, rippled, sinewy texture sweeping along under the bridges. Red-stemmed willows, leafless and tipped with silky, pale yellow buds poked up in clusters from a muddy riverbank.

By a pier a breeze drove small waves against the flow, sparkling and dancing along the shadow of a pole making the shadow appear to move upstream yet remain stationary, a long darkened strip in the undulating water. In some way this seemed to represent time, its apparent movement, like the illusion seen in a plastic hologram. Blurring the one moment we have ever lived in, into many.

A freeway curves high above the river, trucks, cars streaming, the world filled with a sea sound, undulating in tone like machines do. Across the river is a marina with white yachts and board walks and beyond, on the opposite bank behind a path that follows the river for miles, is a row of small restaurants, boutiques and the like.

 

Each day we move through a world of innumerable impressions, most subliminal, the blurred background bokeh to looking which in turn is a background to the more focused noticing.

Much of what arises in conscious seeing, listening, feeling, lives fleetingly then is lost to surface memory as if time was ordered differently and images, ideas, realizations arising like so many pages lain flat revealing all imaged upon them, quickly slip back end on. There edges then falling from view, refolded, hidden, only inchoate impressions remaining.

Two people walked past, pushing bicycles, laughing over a private joke. Small blackbirds chased each other over crumbs beneath a table to the side; the freeway noise filled the air making the whole scene seem dense as if fixed to an invisible screen like the scene was a layer.

The river flowed on looking its darkest in this season, arising from a grey vague and leafless distance, passing menacingly beneath a crumbling concrete wall, sweeping under cold bridges and through the city still in winter. A city warmed by engines and furnaces behind walls, beneath streets. Lit by a sun that gives most of its warmth to other places.

Though dangerous and useful, dirty, nourishing and cleansing, if you settle your mind, your vision, upon the river’s back then your feeling is filled with its ripples, its cold hurtling power. Seeing is feeling, looking is touching. Your aliveness, the world’s life.

Despite the illusion of perspective seemingly presenting whole scenes, complete people, actions as if freely chosen, we can’t truly know what we see, what is heard. Thoughts too may reach but cannot touch, all of them frozen pieces of time welded together through habit.

Only flickering points of perception are built by a necessary subterfuge into things known. But through quietness, feeling, the apparitions of a single day can bring, at times, a whispering life of unknowable fullness.

There’s something astounding about being in a world, the senses alight in all directions. Here is a doorway to what is wanted from hidden recesses of the heart. When restless pursuit quietens, arising out of desire stilled to a silent power, inward and outward collapse into one fluid perception.

A mild joy settles into the body’s soft hum, riding light and sound in a spherical expanse. Hidden portals to the intrinsic real, like flower petals, a light touch, a Robin singing a block away, embellish a foreground of ancient peace.

The cloud layer has thickened further and the midday light has dimmed to an almost twilight grey. The air strangely still. Though dog walkers talk, gathered on a muddy square of grass and the city shows all signs of contemporary bustle, an ancientness seems to rise from the wet earth gathering all still things in a contemplation linking this day to a distant past.

 

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