Water has always been an important element in my life. I don’t drink enough of it, even though I’m always trying to do better. I also don’t spend enough time sitting and being present with water in a variety of environments.
As a child, it took 5 minutes, through a lush coastal forest, to walk to the beach. I spent a lot of time exploring the shoreline and watching the ebb and flow of the tide. I would also spend time with my Grandpa and my dad on the boat fishing. These excursions became some of my fondest childhood memories. They ended when my Grandpa died. I was 12.
I’m not sure what happened to life after Grandpa passed. It became complicated and I didn’t find the ocean as soothing as I had previously. I did, though, find solace in waterfalls and rivers. I even have these two bodies of water comprise a tattoo that covers most of my back.
On certain kinds of days, Trev and I will drive to Englishman River Falls. The falls are quite turbulent and sections of the river are very slow and peaceful. We enjoy exploring and finding different spots to take in the water that flows through an old growth Douglas Fir forest. Old Man’s Beard drips from branches while moss and ferns blanket the forest floor. Bird song fills the air.
This last visit, we found ourselves lost in the contemplation of death. Trev was lost in thoughts of his Grandma. I couldn’t help thinking about the slow decay of the natural environment.
I find the process of decay to be fascinating. As organic matter dies and decomposes, it allows new matter to grow. Death becomes an act of creation and is actually quite beautiful. I can deal with this kind of death. What I’m beginning to struggle with more and more is the unnatural decay of the natural world caused by pollution, urbanization, greed, exploitation, and ignorance. The outdoors has been a source of healing to me my entire life, and it sickens me that our economic and political systems can justify ecocide. It saddens me that the food I eat, the air I breath, and the water I drink are becoming more and more contaminated.
I have no revolutionary solutions to this problem. Only thoughts and an idealistic faith that everything is working out exactly as it has to. Death and decay are inseparable from life. In our present process of decay, the tragedies we witness are only a reflection of the wonders that await on the other side of horror. Like the phoenix burning through the ashes, the full glory of life will flourish again.