BALANCE. a work of prose by F. Wes Breitenbach

So we find ourselves on the edge of a river. We think through the process. Shoving off from the solid earth to a fluid earth. One that moves within it’s own rules. We do our best to stay ahead of the water’s desire to push us and pull us into places we just want to see and not experience. We read the surface while trying to decode the bottom. We adjust for what we expect but prepare for what may come. Joining us are friends new and old. Some pushing rubber, some floating plastic, but all living life. Enjoying what the earth has provided. Looking after one another with love and respect for our individual journey. Our lives on the outside of the banks wait for us to return. The stresses of many days, sometimes weeks, melt at the cool touch of the water. Worlds away someone else is doing the same. For a brief moment we are one. Dipping our blades we harness the power of science, engineering and human ingenuity as a way to escape back in time. Returning to a place in our minds when instinct was our only way to survive. Fight or flight. One of our most primitive skills. In the distance we see the bend that leads to the take-out. It is at these times you begin to slowly drift back to the outside world. Once again we made it! But not alone. There are many people with us and so many more that came before. Some stood on these same banks struggling to survive and thanking the river for what she provides. Others look to her as a servant. A means to an end. They manipulate her, constrict her, rape and plunder her. They know not the scope of what they do because their vision goes no further than their back pocket. Her children suffer the blows of separation and contamination. The trees can only stand by and watch as she fades from her former glory. Little do they know, the roots that they rely on are stretching out towards that drowned canyon. They begin to sip from the pool of modern advancement and achievement. Soon they too become sick. They also begin to see new neighbors. Ones that couldn’t survive here before. Now becoming crowded and ill, the old trees give way to the next landscape. Unlike you and I, most of the earth and her children must survive right where they are. They cannot move to a better place. As the ramp draws closer I begin to ponder the question, “who will come to this river next”? Will it be a bird looking for a suitable home, fish returning to breed, the fisherman trying to feed his family,  the paddler trying to feed their mind and soul? Or will it be the businessman who sees profit and development opportunity? What will be left to the earth and her future children? I ask this not for an answer but for a dialogue. We must see the rivers before the dams to grasp the influence of their presence. Look around you. You are surrounded by the gifts of both nature and technology. The survival skill we must now hone is balance.

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