“May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back.”
-Rainer Maria Rilke
This past weekend I went to an art opening at Disjecta to see the artist, Carolina Caycedo, speak about her art. It was, without hyperbole, a mind-blowing, life-changing experience. The show was titled:
“I’ve known rivers:
I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.”
Yes, that’s the full title. It’s the first two lines of a Langston Hughes poem.
Carolina Caycedo spoke beautifully and passionately about the damming (and the damning) of the rivers all over the world. Specifically, about the rivers and dams of South America. Brazil hosts the 2nd and 3rd largest dams in the world. Beyond the statistics, science, and logistics, she spoke mostly as an artist and her words struck a cord deep inside me.
She offered this. So many of us live in a patriarchical world where power, development, and consuming are unquestionable values. This is equal to: “I think, therefore, I am.” “I am” denotes I am a solitary being independent of others (people and nature.) She talked about shifting out of this paradigm to: We are. She used these three examples: “The experience when the river touches us, the way we are touched by our lover, and when the jaguar looks into our eyes.” These interactions and experiences with the world are the things that determine who we are.
80% of the rivers in the world are dammed. 80%!
We are not separate from the world around us. We are inextricably linked to weather patterns, river flows, gravity, forests, oceans, plants, animals, and unknown, unimaginable forces. We are not separate from the people around us. In truth, we are defined by the people and communities around us.
Here’s what I’ve been contemplating: my body is full of rivers and bodies of water. Rivers, estuaries, ponds, oceans. Blood, lymph, semen, tears, saliva. Also, my life is full of rivers and bodies of water. Patterns, thoughts, interactions, movement.
The questions then are: What dams have I created in my life that stop the natural flow of energy? What am I consuming that is contaminating and stagnating the fluids in my body?
In 2017, 86 dams were removed to restore rivers in the U.S.. What dams do you need to decommission to allow the rivers of your life to flow?