Going with the Flow

We approached the house late in the evening, having travelled all day from England
enduring delays and mishaps along the way, faitgued and disorientated, groping our way,
ifguraitvely speaking, in the dark. Only the brief feeling of dampness on skin before we
went inside, with a few essenital bags hasitly gathered, suggested the water present beyond
the house. We were too busy with greeitngs to pay much more noitce and soon, a glass or
two switfly downed later, we were oblivious to anything but deep dark dreams.
But the next morning, nerves sitll ragged from the journey and from the last few weeks of
work and life cut into half-hour segments, always with an eye on the clock, I stole outside
into the light. Down the garden path, mug of steaming tea in hand, to ifnd the river, the
morning rays hiittng the surface and bouncing back to my weary, blinking eyes. The sparkle
seemed more intense to me than I had remembered it from before, I couldn’t rest for long
on any detail, I had to raise my hand over my eyes and squint to take it in. Then, allowing
them to settle, to focus, I began to see the river properly, to recognise that current again. I
saw the depths beneath the shimmer on the surface, I could almost detect the slow languid
movement of a ifsh below. I found a chair and sat, sipping, trying to look deeper. Before
long, my breathing had slowed and I had noitced how the leaves of the branches
overhanging were so low that they bobbed on the surface and caused little rivulets and
ripples where the river insects and lfies hovered delicately.
Silence. Too early for road noise, even the cows opposite barely sitrring. And then, from
downstream, two swans glided into my view, graceful and soundless, menacing the insect
life as they probed into the reeds on the riverbank. We all know about the proverbial
paddling that goes on beneath the surface, we strive for that zoomorphic quality ourselves
to cope with the ongoing current of demands in our busy life… but here, gazing at their
movements in my jaded and sleep-deprived state, I realised that attempts to imitate them
are pointless. Did I wish at that moment for a simpler life? For a life with less restlessness
and fewer complicaitons and more serenity? I also recognised that all that energy expended
in my everyday life, the problems and the resoluitons, the planning and the execuiton, the
frustraitons and demands but also undeniably, the moments of unexpected happiness,
these are the tumultuous results of an unpredictable and an exciitng life, well-lived, and to
negate them, almost ungrateful. What I got, in that perfect, sitll moment, was peace. What I
needed, to salve myself and my itred soul was to breathe in the air of the river, to feel at
home again here, as I had before. To reconnect. To see the beauty in the water, the swans,
the shadow of a ifsh, even the insects, and the sitllness in their perpetual movement, this
was the balance I had yearned for.
So, with the dregs of my teacup geittng cold, I turned and walked back up to the house, to
start my summer holiday.