The river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere; only the present exists for it, not the shadow of the past, nor the shadow of the future. – Siddartha, Herman Hesse
This last weekend I escaped.
On all fours, fingernails grimy, toes crusty with dirt, the pads of hands and feet scraped, I galloped out of the city. Away. With my brother and his two friends, my dad and my uncle, we waited till all responsibilities snored beneath their blankets, then we avoided the creaky floorboards and slipped out the front door…
The Deschutes River.
About a two hour drive along the Columbia Gorge highway, we arrived at a family cabin and set up camp. With electricity, running water, sheeted beds, and food prepared, the only thing missing was wifi and a large flat screen to connect the Xbox.
But this wasn’t about camping. It was about relaxing. About tracing your image in the sway of the grasses, counting the folds and creases of the river, defying gravity at night, the stars our stepping stones as we hopped along constellations in the midnight sky.
On Saturday, I and the other boys in that wobbly stage of adulthood went rafting. There is one rapid, Oak Springs, a class four rapid (rapids are ranked one to six, six being impossible to navigate) that provided a little thrill. But our guide was so skilled—and us capable paddlers—that it wasn’t too worrisome.
However, I wasn’t there for the thrust of adrenaline.
I was there simply for the river.
You can look at the picture of it; you can see it in person; none of it, though, compares to being on it.
It’s like trying to explain the sensation of a summertime, icy lemonade without actually sipping it yourself. There is something ineffable, one quality, no matter how adroit you are at imagining or remembering, that leaves the experience incomplete unless you’re immersed in it.
A peace. A serenity. A hushed soul. A porous heart.
Up above you an eagle soars. All around you the hills meditate. And in your raft, your best friends at your side, there’s nature’s silence which is never silent, the teal river always flowing, never the same, shushing, gushing, laughing, moving, being; both chilly yet refreshing, surging yet graceful.
Everything yet one.
I am sad to have left it but thankful for its rejuvenation. And I recommend anyone, whether you think you have the time or not, to experience it yourself.