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The music of the river

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By GEORGE ROBERTSON, M.D.

On a recent trip I slept beside a clear bubbling mountain stream. And being in a scientific field, I was taught to analyze things. These are the things that came to mind when I thought about the river.

I thought, last night, about the beautiful sounds that I have been going to sleep by these last few nights. What is this peaceful, soothing sound that gets my attention so much that I want to concentrate on it as I lay down to sleep?

I first thought of the wind. But not a destructive strong kind that you might find in a hurricane. And not as quiet as a gentle breeze. But a stronger steady wind, not interrupted by a gust that would bend trees to the ground and let them spring up again. A powerful sustaining force that might move a sailboat at top speed skating across the waves of the ocean.

And what about the character of that sound that puts me to sleep every night? Its tones are full and deep with hardly a trace of thinness. From the low bass notes of the gurgle of the eddies to the sibilant strains of the water whistling past small stems of trees dangling into its edge.

And then as I listened to the sort of quiet roar of the water, it reminds me of a breaking wave, not on the California shores as it crashes into a rocky cliff but more like a rolling gentle wave as it breaks on a sandy beach.

As I think of the sounds and imagine the clear water hurrying across the rocky bottom, I am transported into the realm of motion. I am moving on energy and force of the current. I am transported by a magic flying carpet through the elements as I go faster than the air around me and almost as fast as the water beneath me, swept along in the symphony of the sound of the flowing, gurgling, bubbling mirth. Drifting, ever drifting into the spirit world that can transport me everywhere in the world of my imagination and not just down the river.

And I notice the color of the water, clean, blue tinged, homogeneous. I realized that the blue and sometime green nature has to do with dissolved minerals, the same ones I have making up my very frame.

But the thought of being carried along on the water brings me back to the passing not only of the elements but of time. And I realize that once the water passes this point on the river that it can never be recalled. It is destined to continue downstream beckoned by a force still so mysterious to the mind of scientists that has been linked to a graviton (a particle yet still undiscovered), and to dark energy itself, the stuff holding all of life together.

And at the same time, I know that I, too, will never have this very moment again. In a few short hours, I will lose the companionship with all who are sharing this experience with me on the river and be thrown back into the current of life into different eddies and pools filled with different drops of water than I have beside me now.

And I long to hold onto that feeling of fullness – that bond of shared togetherness and brotherhood that I have enjoyed these last few days.

As I do this, I reach for the ethereal, the perfect state where I can grasp and hold all the good things in life and never have to release them – I look and I long for the eternal.

Editor’s Note: Robertson is a physician with Family Medical Associates, PC, in Lebanon.

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