The Flow of the New Year

"We go to the river’s edge for comfort, spiritual renewal, meditation, solitude; we go to the river to feel and know the continuance of life."
– Henry David Thoreau

Russian River, CA | © John Krzesinski

Morning at Russian River, CA | © John Krzesinski

We are three weeks into the New Year, and there is an image in my mind that is sticking with me. I was in Guerneville, CA for New Year’s Eve with friends, as is our yearly tradition. We thought it was a bit chilly for canoeing the Russian River, but we did take a short walk by the banks.

It was one of those days where the sun comes and goes from the clouds. I trailed off a bit from my friends and began to walk quietly close the ebb of the river. It’s amazing what you see when you look close; tiny fish swirl, insects hop the skin of the water; also, the cold clarity of the water, the various-sized rocks and plant life squeezing up between them. Then looking up, the expanse of the river, the ducks who circle and follow each other, the trees spread out high on the hill, their branches extending up into the sky. To my right, the river disappears, flowing around a bend.

As I stood there alone, a sense of peace and deep connection washed over me, and I realized that I had found a path into the coming year. My face and body relaxed and I found something that can be so fleeting in the busy-ness of everyday life: a sense of wholeness and interconnectedness, a gift from the river and from nature.

Famously, the greek philosopher Heraclitus said, "Everything changes and nothing remains still … and … you cannot step twice into the same stream". Given, I did not step in the cold river on New Year’s Eve this year. But, thanks to the river, I did in some way step into a new form, one of flow and renewal.