Reading The River


I felt the rhythm in my words, flowing softly from the page, through my mind, and into the sound spaces shared with family. I read aloud. Poem after poem. I was supposed to be writing but instead I could not stop sharing. I felt compelled. It seemed ridiculous with the inward tension mounting of another day gone and no blog post to show for it.

Can it be I’m not making a comeback after all? Was it just a fluke, those three posts over the last few weeks that felt like flying instead of the usual trudging to which I’d resigned myself?


“You need this,” my mind said. “You need the break. A change of pace. The stop signs you encounter throughout your day. Even if those signs are frustrating interruptions in your thought processes.”

I spoke with a good friend about rhythm, seasons, all those pieces of signs that give us direction and hope and permission to breathe. And yes, indeed, I had been listening and following the beating of my heart, the pulsing energy to try my wings again. I had been led to step back into this river of words and ideas and edits. This was no fluke, it was part of a pattern. I just needed a view from the shore to see it. I needed to learn to read my river.

I talk a lot about rivers. It's a symbol that keeps on giving. Following the flow of the river is a good and beautiful thing, but every traveler knows the necessity of mooring in the quiet and still spaces in order to continue strong. When the body becomes still, healing becomes its most potent.

We’re all about the flow these days, the hustle, the rush-sh-sh of a strong current in which our veins course with the power of vision, speed, and conviction. It feels good. It feels amazing, yet if we are required to sustain it for too long, the weariness sets in, and not just a little bit- the weariness infiltrates right into your bones. Then, it begins to feel like sadness. But the sadness is saying something, too: This matters, it means something, and the weight of it is a strange gift that steadies, much like the roots of a tree keep the faith when winter storms in.

Why is stopping not considered part of the flow of our currents? Every river has different paces, existing at various points along its path. There are some places where the movement is barely perceptible; the forward force seemingly interrupted. And somehow, we don't ask the river what it means, we just let ourselves feel the meaning of it in the way things change around us.

Interruptions are part of our rhythm. In music, they are called rests. In life, they are called annoying. But why can’t they be a part of the music of this movement through time? Lately, I have been learning that they can be, and that they may be saving me from falling asleep at the rudder. Complacency is far less of a risk when the status quo gets shaken up by interruptions.

I’m learning that to give up on myself too quickly is a habit that can be broken. I’m building emotional stamina with each encampment upon the banks of the unplanned. I am panicking less and trusting more that there is even more life on the other side of each inconvenient pause.

Let’s check on those interruptions and ask what else they might be telling us about our river. And beloveds, don’t give up too quickly. Read the silences and still waters as invitations. Rest in the knowing that your river will continue, and your body will thank you for giving it a chance to stretch its legs.

Jamie Bagley