Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The smell of churned up mud

I'm sitting next to San Ramon Creek and today the skies are blue, the birds are singing and the water is clearing. Last Friday was a very different picture. As I walked the boys down to school alongside the creek, the sky was dark. Rain was pouring down, and the creek was a writhing, muddy mess. I could smell the strong and unpleasant scent of decay.

The storm had churned up the creek bed, and all the rotting vegetation that had settled to the bottom was being mixed with mud and water and most importantly, oxygen. When the creek is travelling past each day under blue skies, it's easy to forget that there is something unpleasant, yet vitally important, happening beneath the surface. Dead things are feeding microbes which, in turn, give us the building blocks for life. The stench rising from the creek, that's all perfectly natural, desirable even. Yes, it stinks. Yes, it's a bit gross to think about, but it's got to happen.

Sometimes we have to consciously remind ourselves that life is fed by death and that the natural order of things is neither good nor bad. It simply the rules by which existence is governed. Dead things, whether plant, animal, or even intangibles, like ideas, must go through a process of decay before they can rejoin the cycle of life. So, the other day, when I was wondering what to do with dreams that seemed to have died, I couldn't see this. Today, I am understanding that my anger, my fear, and my sorrow are the by-products of that death. They are being pulled apart, piece by piece and becoming available to me as the nutrients for new ideas.

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