Time is a River

The new photo album came in the mail. It’s pictures from the fall, all capped off with a glossy photo on the front. It’s my son on the cover, 7-yrs-old, holding a rainbow trout in his hands. He’s grinning at the camera.

This picture, taken by me, lived on my phone for months before I had it printed. It’s a “live” photo, meaning that when I touch it with my finger, the moment moves just as it did when it occurred. The water swirls around Kyle, his grin stretches, the fish flops lightly as he grasps it. Only a second long, the moment is a fish plucked from the river of time.

With technology, it’s easy to recall the past as we have documented it. But the things that I didn’t photograph, I still remember about that day fishing. The dead snake I found by the river. The patience of the instructor with my son. The calm feeling of repetition – cast upriver, let the lure drift downward, pull back, do it again. The water moved coolly around my legs; the sun warmed on my shoulders. We threw the fish back and watched it swim away.

Just yesterday, I was on a plane back from a long weekend in New York. As we flew down the eastern seaboard, we descended below the clouds. As we got closer to the lowcountry, I peeked out the window and could see the rivers and tidal creeks of the lowcountry snake through the marsh grasslands. The hairpin curls of streams—I remembered something from my college geography class taken twenty years earlier. Water always takes the path of least resistance. Floods into the weak points, moves around obstacles. A river’s geography is ever changing, due to water’s path. The river winds back and forth.

I think about time now in this way. If time is a river; the memories are water. Moving around obstacles, flooding in at weak points.