The Wisdom of Waters

Written by: Ava Arnejo | 2 weeks ago

After a long week at work, I went on a river trek earlier today. I swam in pools of water, my eyes fixed on the clouds lazily drifting between coconut leaves. It had been a long time since I had done this, and I felt that I deserved to be surrounded by this lush greenery. The world melted away and I felt myself being rocked back and forth by the river currents as I floated in the pool, and I could feel myself being cleaned.

Rivers have a certain mystique and beauty that captivates the human imagination. They are dynamic bodies of water that are in constant motion, never stagnant or still. As such, they have long been a source of inspiration for artists of all kinds, from poets to painters, from novelists to songwriters.

The American novelist, Robert James Waller, once wrote in The Bridges of Madison County: “When men grow old and weary, they move closer to water.” The English essayist, Olivia Laing, wrote about the beauty and mystique of the Ouse, which she described as a “bearer of secrets”, one that carried an opacity that left things concealed underneath its surface.

Even the passage of time has intertwined with rivers. For centuries, rivers have passed landscapes and there is hardly an age-mark in history that did not involve one. Ancient civilizations have been seeded, nurtured and grown alongside major rivers: the Nile birthed Egypt, and the Tigris and the Euphrates birthed Babylon, Assyria and Mesopotamia. In Asia, there were major rivers that birthed ancient civilizations as well, like the Indus and the Yangtze. In Latin America, the Amazon fed the Aztecs and the Incas and the entire Amazonian rainforest.

Even the ancient kingdom of Tondo in the Philippines was birthed at Pasig’s mouth, located in the Lusung Delta. Cebu was riddled by Subangdaku, Kamputhaw, Guadalupe and Kinalumsan, to name a few. The old kingdom of Bool was born in the wetlands between Dauis and Tagbilaran. These ancient Philippine civilizations were fed by the river, and their lands were enriched by sweet water. Rivers have been a source of transportation and trade, and they have provided a setting for many of our most important cultural and religious traditions.

The poetess Virginia Woolf, who would in later years drown in the Ouse, once metaphorized the river as the permeable boundary between the present and the past -- showing the supreme allure of rivers, its duality the heart of a potent metaphor.

At the heart of the river's appeal is its ability to represent the ebb and flow of life itself. Just like the river, life is full of ups and downs, highs and lows. We experience moments of joy and moments of sadness, moments of peace and moments of chaos. The river's ever-changing currents and tides serve as a metaphor for the constant movement and change that we experience in our own lives.

The river also represents the power of nature and man’s place within it. It is a reminder of interconnectedness with the natural world, and of our dependence on its resources. The river provides water for drinking, irrigation, and industry, and it supports a diverse ecosystem of plants and animals.