Pretend you are a river. Pretend you are the mist who falls so fine—so gentle—that nothing separates water and air. You are the rain who falls in sheets, explodes onto the ground to leave pocks and puddles. You are the ground who receives this water, soaking it up, taking it in, carrying it deep inside. You are the cracks and fissures where the waters accumulate, flow, fall to join more water, and more, in pools and rivers who move slowly through cavities, crevices, pores. You are the sounds and silence of water seeping or staying still. You are the meeting of wet and dry, the union of liquid and solid, where solids dissolve and liquids solidify. You are the pressure who pushes water through seams. You are the rushing water who bubbles from the earth.
You are a tiny pool between rocks. You overflow, find your way to join others who like you are moving, moving. You are the air at the surface of the water, the joining of substantial and insubstantial, the union of under and over, weight and not-weight. You are the riffle, the rapid, the tiny waterfall who turns water to air and air to water. You are the mist who settles on the soil. You are the plants who drink the mist, and you are the sun who warms and feeds them.
You are the river, who is married to the mountains you have known since they were young, who have given themselves to you as you have given yourself to them. You are the canyons you nestle into, each year deeper than the year before. You are the forests who give you their fallen trees, and the meadows you flood and feed and who feed you back their fruits, and fine insects who fly to your surface to be taken in by the fish, who with their own bodies again feed the meadows.
You are the river who feeds the ocean, who feels the tides pushing and pulling against your mouth, the waves mixing fresh and salt. You are that intermingling. That is who you are. That is who you have always been. You have lived with volcanoes and glaciers. You have been dammed by lava and ice. You have carried logjams so large and so old they grow their own forests, with you running beneath. You have lived through droughts and floods.
You miss the salmon. You miss the sturgeon. You miss the ocean. You miss the meadows. You miss the forests. You miss the beavers and otters and grizzly bears. You miss the people. You want to feel the tickling of the sturgeon, the thrusting of the salmon. You want to carry food and soil to the ocean. You want to cover the meadows as you used to, and you want to give yourself to them and you want them to give themselves to you, as you have done forever, and as they have too. You want them all back.
If you’d like to read more, visit Mindful.org’s Environment section.
Derrick Jensen is the author of A Language Older than Words.