Finding the Seam

Poured Watercolor of Myself Flyfishing in South Fork, Colorado

Poured Watercolor of Myself Fly Fishing in South Fork, Colorado

Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.

Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It

Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

The 2013-2014 academic year slides now into its twilight, and we spent the morning in my high school Philosophy class attempting to pull the drawstring on the bag containing the fragments of wisdom collected throughout the semester.  Norman Maclean and Henry David Thoreau have provided a framework for my current musings on a philosophical summation.

Sifting through the philosophical fragments of the Presocratics, we find two thinkers who fastened their outlook on opposite worldviews.  Heraclitus of Ephesus, arguing that one cannot set foot in the same river twice, concluded that the essential core of life is flux, or change.  Everything flows; nothing abides.  Parmenides of Elea, on the other hand, maintained that the core of life was stable, eternal, permanent; there is always Being.  A century later, Plato synthesized these thinkers, positing a world of appearances, physical, always changing, yet supported by a world of ideas, pure Being, eternal.  Throughout western history, thinkers wrestled with these two poles, seeking the seam that unites (or divides) them.

As a passionate fly fisherman, I think on these things nearly every time I enter a Colorado mountain stream.  As my eyes survey the waters, I eventually detect the seam dividing the swifter current from the deepening pools, and if I look long enough, I can see the rows of trout lining the seam, staying in the quiet waters while watching their food drift by on the flow.  I take delight in watching my dry fly drift down the current, close enough to the seam to entice a rainbow to rise.

Another seam, articulated by Mclean and Thoreau, divides the coursing waters above from the basement foundation of rock below. I love that metaphor of life as a river, surging and coursing, over the eternal, supporting foundation below.   Robert Henri in his celebrated book The Art Spirit, has struck a similar chord repeatedly in his remarks, dividing surface appearances from deep realities:

There is an undercurrent, the real life, beneath all appearances everywhere.

In these times there is a powerful demarcation between the surface and the deep currents of human development.  Events and upheavals, which seem more profound than they really are, are happening on the surface.  But there is another and deeper change in progress.  It is of long, steady persistent growth, very little affected and not at all disturbed by surface conditions.  

There is so much truth to mine from these literary musings of great minds from the past.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

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5 Responses to “Finding the Seam”

  1. Xraypics Says:

    This picture is beautiful. The splash of red on the left supplies such a great contrast to the green it draws the eye and imparts lovely movement to the image. Cheers, Tony


    • davidtripp Says:

      Wow, thank you. I might return to pouring watercolors again one day. This was only the second time I had tried it and was happy with the result. I’m experimenting more with complementary colors these days, particularly the reds against the greens.


  2. Cryptoquote Spoiler – 06/02/14 | Unclerave's Wordy Weblog Says:

    […] Finding the Seam […]


  3. kingfisherhalcyondays Says:

    The painting is great. As I fly angler too I appreciate the different areas such as the water, bank and woods that draw the eye in. Nice musings as well.


    • davidtripp Says:

      Thank you for that response. I am aching to do more fly fishing compositions in watercolor. With school starting up, it’s so hard to find quality time to pursue this passion. I’m glad you understand the “draw” of the environment when one stands in a stream.


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