Muddy Metaphor

January 22nd, 2011
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I went to the La Silla River this morning. A year ago it was once more of a swamp than a river, with brackish water and muddy banks. But, a few months ago, hurricane Alex flooded it; many houses were filled with mud, and cars were swept away. But soon after the storm passed, the river was completely clean. It looked beautiful and natural in spite of the chaos or perhaps because of it.

But then the bulldozers came in. Someone was determined that no other storm would flood the river again. Beautiful boulders were extracted from the stream, the small rapids and waterfalls destroyed. The shady banks were filled with refuse from the riverbed. The water, that had flown so pure after the storm, was completely muddied.

Because of the complete lack of respect for the natural flow of the river, it was becoming little else than a canal. If it were not in a park, I’m sure the engineers would box it in with concrete, killing it altogether.

Today the water was clear again, but already, weeds were growing in the water. A man, driving a four-wheeled motorbike, paused to look at the river. He then crossed it with his bike, muddying the water completely. As if he wasn’t satisfied with disturbing the stream in this way, he crossed it again and left. The clear waters were left completely opaque and started flowing downstream.

I was left wondering at the blindness of that man. But as I looked upstream I saw that the clear water flowing down was very slowly cleaning the river. As I looked downstream, the mud was thick as ever.

At this moment I asked aloud: what’s the lesson here?

It is all a question of whether I look downstream where the mud is, or upstream where the water is clear. Do I look at the past and focus on the consequences of my actions, or do I look at the unsullied future?

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