This morning I walked down to the Rio Grande, its muddy waters cutting a wide swath through the arid Chihuahuan desert. Through countless millennia the river had carved a deep canyon dividing the U.S. from Mexico, its sheer cliff walls a testament to the shaping power of water over time. Pensive and a little heart-sick, I approached the swirling waters and literally and figuratively cast my bread upon the waters. The current, viscous like rich chocolate milk, swallowed it down.
Across the river on the opposite bank, a man in a wide-brimmed hat sat in the shade of a boulder. Picturesque (and assuredly aware of it), he saluted me with a song:
Ay, ay, ay, ay,
Canta y no llores
I stepped to the river’s edge and then into the current, waves lapping over the top of my sandaled feet. I recalled the idea that no man can set foot in the same river twice, for one of the two –the river or the man—will have changed. I believe this to be true. But it is also true that rivers and men both can shape their surroundings through recurrent action, cutting paths that they will follow barring a supreme change in circumstance. We people are continuously changing and yet creatures of habit. It is these truths—those whose antitheses are also true—which are most compelling.