Upstream, downstream

I had a dream in which I was fishing, so today went to sit on a rock beside the Esopus Creek, just to be near the water.

Lately, when I sit by a brook or creek, I notice that I prefer to look upstream rather than downstream. No matter where the sun is, the light hits the oncoming water in a more interesting and dynamic way than the way it strikes the water that’s rushing away. I feel faintly uneasy about this preference, as if I’d rather look back in time, at the earlier part of the stream, than contemplate the future, the stream’s later incarnation—just as I sometimes doubt the wisdom of spending so much time on the ancestors. Perhaps I’m living excessively in the past.

But this morning, as I was mulling over the difference between upstream and downstream, I realized I’ve had it backwards. The downstream water represents the past—it’s already gone by me. The upstream water is the future, heading in my direction. As I watch the wavelets jump over rocks and smooth across shallows, I get a sense of the velocity and direction that will influence the way the water will be moving when it reaches me.

I feel calm looking upstream, as I feel a sense of rightness when I learn about my ancestors, setting them into place in my history. On the one hand, I don’t assume that they have fixed my identity, any more than the upstream topography can determine which rocks the water passes over when it reaches me. But the overall picture of my ancestry helps me understand the currents that influence my life.

Strangely, I have a resistance to looking straight across the creek at what I presume is the present. The water is going by too fast for my eyes to handle. Is that a fault? Many spiritual paths insist that we are meant to live in the present.

Or maybe I’m taking the metaphor too far. Maybe being in the present is the act of looking at the stream, like the act of having an ongoing relationship with the ancestors.

Whatever it is, I’ll keep looking upstream in welcome.

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5 Responses to Upstream, downstream

  1. Love this…Just wrote to an analyst friend who presented a case of a woman who wanted to be in the moment but was always obsessed with the bitchiness and pettiness of her friends instead. I found myself asking why she wanted to escape to the moment? Why did she not want to understand that she felt she wasn’t getting something from her friends that she needed and trying to figure out what she needed and going about getting it. Just a thought. “the moment” is never here anyway so why try to be there. You’re not here if you are…ha ha! Love your musings. Also had a dream two nights ago that I was walking away from the sun kind of up a hill on a highway. I was very concerned that it was not good to be doing that–reminds me of your concern with upstream downstream. All so interesting. xoxo Oh I see i’m listed as the analyst dreams…my new blog..ha ha. well it’s Josie btw! xoxo

    • visnow77 says:

      Josie, you sound just like Sparrow, who hates that whole “be in the moment” business. But I have to say, there are rare moments when I AM in the moment, and it’s spectacular. But if you can’t be in the moment, why not bring the past into the present–maybe it’s a way of getting here…

  2. maelife says:

    Really wonderful conversation Violet. Yes, I think you have it right at the end – when you are in the moment of looking at the stream – you are being with the stream in that moment – whether you are looking up or downstream. You are “being with” all that is occurring in that moment, including all the thoughts about your ancestors. That “beingness” is you! and your relationship to all!

    Thank you for your thoughtfulness.

  3. Dawn Markle says:

    I never thought about wether i look upstream or down stream or any preference for either,…. If I look at the stream from my window i can’t look up or down its only straight across, and when i am down there i think i tend to look in all directions and i particularly like to listen to the creek best. I also am always on the look out for the eagle the lives in my area. What amazes me most is that the water is always coming there so much water every time i look always flowing the water never says im tired today im just gonna stop for a while and take a nap. Each little water molecule rushing past is over whelming my brain wants to say stop stop let me touch you lets talk and some time ill watch a leaf float by just to get an idea like whoa the water is rushing under the leaf faster than the leaf floats ……………. I love our creek

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