River of Thought

Sometimes the river of thought flows through rapids, smothering the new born consciousness with the many faces of reality, so rich and thick with meaning you don’t even know if they’re yours, if they even relate to you, if they even exist, whether existence is something tangible, something whose presence you can guarantee tomorrow in this ever shifting unfolding of meaning that surrounds us.

I am confounded and awed, and somewhat eager to alter its course to reach the lazy river made of sunshine and cozy afternoons where time slows down enough to give us comfort, where reality feels solid again, as if it had never changed. So many thoughts, so many people, conflicting interests intruding upon my life, I don’t even know you, go away! Who are you? Something inside my consciousness asks, and I can’t be sure it’s me, if there is such a thing.

Photo by Andrew Draper

I feel my dispersed mass of droplets in the river of consciousness, flowing to the ocean, an archipelago that only maintains cohesion due to some unseen force greater than us all, unfathomable and so far away. Who are you? The thought springs again, pressing, and only for a second I contemplate the possibility that it may be right, who am I, really?

The craziness of our nascent evolution wreaks havoc on the lesser mind, the one we were born with, supposedly sufficient, as fitting to the task now as an abacus to the digital age. There is no time for philosophical musings, no time for anything at all while we brace against giant streams of feeling and thought crashing into our minds like waves on a rocky shore, carrying a glut of dead mollusks and sea foam, and random debris thrown by people who should know better, an avalanche of useless bulk, mixed with messages in bottles, all blended together with no beginning or end.

One breath and then another wave crashes, indistinguishable from the one before, same bulk, same blend, same shapeless fiction.

Another breath, another wave, another breath, another wave, a steady rhythm starts imposing order over the amorphous mix of consciousness and trash that throws itself at me with a vengeance.

Another breath, another wave, another breath, another wave. Trying to distinguish patterns in the shapelessness before me, because nothing in Creation is devoid of patterns, not even chaos, it is the law of the Cosmos.

Meanwhile the waves bring fragrance mixed with sounds, the sharp caws of crows, the sound of the rushing river, the soft brush of the wind against the clay banks, a spicy fragrance of cloves and black locust flowers and amber, and I know this moment distilled from the essence of existence will soon be erased from the memory to make room for the waves and the clutter, so I drink it in with all my being, grateful for the gift.

Another breath, another wave, and all of a sudden I realize the dispersed atoms of my consciousness are floating around the debris and the sea foam, in disarray, and I have no discernible shape either in this random state of nature, the world before thought.

Don’t get lost, something independent of my consciousness presses, drawing all the pieces of my being back together, just to satisfy a deep curiosity, the same question, really, over and over again. Who are you?

Are you asking me? I ask myself, for there is nobody else to ask, unless I want to trust the random answers of the amorphous wave of debris that crashes without fail upon my consciousness.

Who are you? The question falls again inside my thought, making waves like a rock in a pond.

Are you asking me or am I asking you, if there is a me and a you at all, I wonder as the droplets of my consciousness start dispersing again, following different currents of thought back to several distinct but equally useless piles of mental debris. Who are you, it presses, as the fragrance mixed with sound attempts to drown the majestic cacophony of concepts contradicting themselves before they’re even stated, and my consciousness mindlessly pulls itself back together to fish a tiny bottle with a message within.

Another breath, another wave. Another breath, another wave. And the little bottle is no more, its essence blended with my essence, rendering me transparent, my every pulse and breath and cellular process exposed, and I am fascinated by the complexity of my earthly vessel, and its trillions of concerted activities, and feeling weird about the fact that it maintains cohesion while its contents spill unbound and unhindered by gravity or weak forces, just as shapeless and yielding as the waves.

Focus! The imperative falls inside my thought, and I realize I’m still holding the message, rolled tightly like a cigarette, and it is slowly melting into my consciousness, starting at the edges.

But the message is not for me, I shouldn’t have picked it up, I try to negotiate terms, as if they were externally imposed, but there is nobody here, not even me, if there is such a thing.

Who are you? The message reads, and I start chuckling softly at the humor of the situation while another wave crashes a fragment of an obsessive thought, two fears and a half eaten sandwich onto my consciousness, and I barely manage to fend them off at the last minute, purely on instinct.

You forgot to pay the cable bill, an affirmation falls into my thought, like a rock in a pond. And then I realize I actually did, and that’s when the big sea of thought turned from shapeless to scary.

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