CURRENT Splashing in the shallows, the man guided his canoe out from the oozing of Round Springs

and into the main flow. He leapt into the stern and began to paddle. D ip and draw, dip and draw... Down this stream of inevitability, the current mov ed him. He was not sure if he was standing still and the landscape was moving o r if he was the one going by it. Down the river of life. Was each stroke of hi s paddle pulling the shores upstream? He soon lost his ability to reason logically. All sounds, all sights, all smell s, the feel of the spruce sure in his hands, all seemed to merge into one. He f elt now that he was on a different journey than the one he had started out on. A journey not only forward into space and time but also backwards to the Current River of his youth. A journey into itself. The Current was the play, not his p addling. He was not even the actor but rather the observer. So this is what th ey mean by the observer changing that which he observes, he mused. He was chang ing the outcome of the experiment with every stroke. The result of each stroke was different sights, different sounds, and even different smells. The feel of the air and the spray from his paddling varied with the speed and strength of hi s paddling. Suddenly, something radically new forcefully inserted itself into this experimen t, this journey. It seemed to his reveried mind, and then to his very Self, tha t there was a dull roaring sound off in the future. This roar was becoming grad ually louder. The current seemed to be getting stronger, faster as if it existe d independently of his mind, of his consciousness. Does a tree make a sound if no one hears it fall in the forest? Apparently so as he had to adjust his paddl ing continuously to compensate. It was only then that he noticed the Springtime waters had risen outside their normal banks. Many trees normally not in the wa ter were now easing into the depths of the stream. He would have to stay more alert to this...reality. But, what did that mean? T his reality. What would happen if he did not disengage from one journey to trav el on this new one? Was he ever even "travelling" or was it, and everything els e, all in his head. What was it that caused him to even react to these new soun ds and sights? Would he ever be able to continue the other journey if he made t his switch fully? Regardless of his thinking, his conscious self - what he conc eived of as his self - was pulled into this new reality by forces unknown and un bidden. The switch was being made for him regardless of any action on his part. The roar was now upon him. He could see the white horses of the rapids up ahead and the water spray rising feet into the air. The sounds became deafening. Th e landscape up ahead, past the whitewater, seemed to be much lower than that he had been travelling in before. His natural abilities steered the canoe towards the longest downward-pointing "Vee" in the rapids. He automatically sped up the canoe to be travelling faster than the current but, being only one man, this wa s in vain. Oh bowman! Where did you go? Did you ever even exist? Suddenly, out of the fog, an old wooden ferry appeared. Seeing no boatman, he p ut his two coppers away and turned the bow to point behind the ferry's course. Then he saw the thick rope strung across the river on which the ferry, attached, could cross back and forth using the current by simply adjusting the angle of a pproach. A diminuitive figure could be seen now huddling near the rudder, attem pting to hide from the heavy, damp evening air. The ferry connected two gravel roads on either side of the Current. Just before passing the ferry, he noticed a branch of the river rushing into and adding volume to the stream. He remembered now the name of this branch and the name of the ferry. Jack's For k. Soon now, he should be drawing abeam of an old abandoned cabin. Many a nigh t had he and his companions spent warming up to the cabin's old iron pot-bellied

stove. They had called this Maloney's Cabin. It was complete with its own bat -filled cave. He steered the canoe over to the left bank and beached the canoe on a convenient sand bar, tieing it off against the current to some old pile of driftwood. He then grabbed his gear and headed up the bank towards the cabin. He moved excite dly ahead, imagining the warmth and dryness of the cabin. Perhaps he would get the old washtub out and heat up some hot water on the stove for a bath, just lik e in the old days. Just then the dripping air was torn asunder by a ightning st rike so close the hairs on his arms and face stood up. A torrential downpour be gan and the man quickened his pace towards the cabin. But, the faster he ran th e farther away the cabin seemed to get! It was as if he was wading thru molasse s. Finally, the cabin was lost to his sight and he was enveloped in a fog so th ick you could cut it with a paddle. The ground turned to deep mud in the heavy rain and he turned around to head back toward his canoe. Sliding down the river's edge, he grabbed the canoe and overturned it, propping it up with some of the driftwood. Then, into his make-shift shelter he ducked, only partially hidden from the wind-whipped rain. He was shivering and shaking mightily as the suddenly cold wind knifed through his soaked clothes. No fire p ossible in this weather, he huddled as best as he could to try and get warmer. This reminded him of a similar circumstance when he and eight other Boy Scouts g ot lost in Blair Creek Cave. This cave was just a little distance downstream and up on the bluff south of the Creek near the confluence of the two streams. They had lost their way in a comp lex maze and became separated from their Scoutmaster and the rest of the Troop. Realizing they were lost, their training kicked in and they stopped crawling ar ound. They chose one spot to stay in until they were found by rescuers. Soon, the cold from the cave, their damp clothing and their inactivity began to set in . They decided to huddle in a group of 3 layers of 3 people. They would rotate the bottom layer when the load became too much to bear. For 14 long hours they waited to be found. At last they heard voices and suddenly a face appeared ove r their heads. The University of Rolla Caving Club had found them and began to guide them out back to the surface. However, they ended coming out of an entire ly different entrance! Apparently, they were the first ones to ever connect wha t had been thought of as two separate caves. At least something constructive wa s accomplished! Another nearby bolt of lightning jolted the man awake from his dream. Or, was h e still asleep? Had the last few hours since the rapids all been a dream? Was he still there, stuck submerged in the branches? Was he dead and this was the a fterlife? If so, this was Purgatory at best! Perhaps the entire trip was a dre am. It might be argued that everything before the trip was the dream and the tr ip was reality. ------------------------------mindbringer, 26 December 2012