The river Nidelva is a significant being in my life. I see its mass of water every day, walking along or across it on my daily business, or just looking at it from my kitchen window. It’s always there, like some good, old friend. And after being so close to a river for some time, you start to notice how it is always changing.
The first time you see a river, you see just that: a river. The next few times, you might also still see just a river. But after a while, you will notice that it looks different from what you saw the last time. You might suddenly find it almost overflowing while it was half-empty yesterday. Or overnight the water has turned from a wildly swirling mass into a peaceful little stream.
You will start to wonder why the river has made such a sudden change. And why it changes back again after a while. It is strange how you can feel like you had gotten to know “your” river, but then at once you realise it is still holding so many secrets. I seems so simple, water flows from its spring in the mountains, through the land, down to the sea. But what happens with all that water along the way? What is added, what is taken out? And how does all of that affect the river as you see it?
That is when you could get out a map, search for information on your river, get to the bottom of it (figuratively speaking, of course). Or you don’t. You could also choose to be content with what you see. Treasure the relationship you have with this river, without knowing all of its secrets. Let the river be a fascinating, mystical being.
Nowadays, we so often seem to think that learning more about something is always better. But what if knowing everything takes away our respect for the things around us? Ancient cultures didn’t know everything. Still they knew the value of something like a river, and they treasured it. They let it be in its worth. And maybe we, in our modern societies, should follow their example a bit more often.
I don’t mean to say seeking knowledge is wrong, absolutely not. We just have to make sure our lust for knowledge is not keeping us from respecting the value and the beauty of nature. Like the mysterious, changing moods of a river.