50: Not A River, But Rain (John Updike)

                “Rain is grace; rain is the sky descending to the earth; without rain, there would be no life.” -John Updike, Self-Consciousness: Memoirs

                Sometimes I tend to think of thoughts (stories, perspectives; plans, projects) as rivers, running ahead of me: if I don’t follow them now, if I don’t stay close, I’ll lose the current forever. It will pass away, and that thought will never come. It will blink out, with less than a blackened wick to show where it might have been. Looking at that, now, I do not believe it.
                I believe that thought, existence, is like a soaking rain: it comes down everywhere, it comes down overflowing, it comes down to drum against the earth. Thinking is like cupping your hand and holding it out from the edge of your tent. (Your tent, because it’s possible to hide from this moment’s thoughts: to shelter from them, so that they never touch your face). That water, that water right then, you could have only held right then; but there is more water, always. There is more rain. It will be different tomorrow, but there will be something tomorrow. You can follow your thoughts now. You can follow them later. You can’t follow the rain: it moves faster than you, it dances past you–it touches you. It soaks the ground, feeding unseen roots, and when you stop and look up and open your mouth, it will kiss your thirst.
                If I didn’t write down these lines–these lines, right now, before I fall asleep–then they would slip away. I would forget them while I dreamed. But all the lines I write are only approximations, are only the patter of the falling rain; and the rain will still be falling tomorrow. The drops will drum a new rhythm with the same old beat. Life, thought, and loving–all these go on.
                When I saw thoughts as rivers to be chased, I got confused about why I write these. I started seeing Uproar as a way to make myself think at least once a week–or, even worse, as a way to prove I have thoughts. That’s silly. I do. We all do. We think like grass growing, and for the same reason: it’s who we are. There’s nothing to prove–just soil to dig into, and water to drink. People to learn from, and moments to share. Why Uproar? Because I care for the people around me. Because it is raining. Because I want to walk into the rain. How wonderful it is that we can walk together.

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