Water And Oceanography

Old Man River Life

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"Old Man River Life"
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What old man river taught me. I grew up near rivers of all sizes. I visited them year round. What I am about to say here may sound strange to many of you, but bear with me here.

At first it was all the usual, I played in the river most of my life. Tubing, huge rope swings and diving into deep, dark pools where the bottom could not be reached. I have good memories of those days. One of the crazy things we used to do was tie a round piece of plywood to a rope, tie that to a tree that had a short piece of rope attached to a stick to hold onto. We rode this against the current. No one that saw us doing this could ignore it. They had to try it. Everyone that tried it loved it. As I got older we stilled played on the river almost every weekend or any time we had time. Giant rubber tubes with coolers strapped into them; we went like a string of doughnuts floating around the next bend.

How did this tie into life? The river is very much like life itself. It shapes us. Like the stones that line the bottom were once jagged, they are now smoothed over and softened by the constant running of water so changed are our lives. We were once rugged and tough; now wisdom like water has smoothed us over and made us less resistant to life's often unpredictable currents. Like the stone that lines the river we've seen great changes and many things caught in the current pass us by. Some fought against this natural progression. Some drowned, some just kept on moving downstream to other places.

One of the odd things this taught me was in traffic of all places. Think of the roadways as mighty rivers and creeks flowing through these tributaries. You see every type of material in this river of vehicles. Some in so much of a hurry they do not see the beauty around them. Some barely move. I drove a gravel train for 20 years in heavy traffic, working in asphalt, sand and gravel. Because of the river and the size of my boat I found it better to allow the rest of the objects in that asphalt river to flow around me. It is something to consider when you are in a hurry. Slow down a little. Just enough so that the rest of the pack is slowly moves away ahead of you. Not only do you get to witness every kind of behavior much like the river, rapids, waterfalls and nearly still, slow moving water. But you give them space. And you give yourself space to react to them. Surprisingly, most of the time you arrive in the same place at nearly the same time as the juggernauts who think they are gaining a few minutes. This is never the case. After twenty years I have never seen anyone gain more than 10-20 seconds in time. These times I remember the river and how many times something floated past us only to see it later on farther down the river caught up in something. On the road usually that's an accident; on the river we called them strainers and snags.

I think about this every time I go to the river and the roadway. Life is a river. Enjoy the ride, stop and get out now and then, pop a few tops and appreciate the world around you.

More about this author: T Darrin Oakes

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