Monday, June 08, 2015
I rounded the corner, walking from one sleepy back street to another, and just for an instant a view opened out, between the trees in their fullest summer green, of the little valley where the heart of town lay, and of the long lake stretched out in its center. But it was only an illusion, the dark unbroken streak nothing but the roof of a building a few yards away. There was no lake in the valley, only, invisible from where I stood in any case, an easily forded stream.
If I could arrange the world to my liking, everyone would have a view of deep water. Water, as the Taoists knew, is what is beyond us, what we cannot know or define. It can be channeled, contained, but in its nature it remains recalcitrant to our purposes. Its inexorable erosive downward course into the inaccessible can be delayed, but in the end, as any child who has ever made the experiment knows, it slips through our fingers. Even in our bodies it is only imprisoned for a time. It flows through us and sustains us, but when it is done with us it will strand us in the sterile deserts of our dreams.