The Flow of the River, by Loren Eiseley Essay

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When reflecting and writing on Eiseley’s essay and the “magical element”, I balk. I think to myself, “What magic?”, and then put pen to page. I dubiously choose a kiddie pool to draw inspiration from, and unexpectedly, inspiration flows into me. As I sit here in this little 10x30 foot backyard, the sky is filled with the flowing gaseous form of water, dark patches of moist earth speckle the yard, the plants soak up their scattered watering, and the leaves of bushes and trees imbue the space with a sense of dampness from their foliage. As my senses tune into the moisture that surrounds me, I fill Braedon’s artificial pond with water. I stare at the shimmering surface, contemplating Eiseley’s narrative, and the little bit of life’s wellspring caught in Brae’s pool. I see why Eiseley thought the most abundant compound on the earth’s surface is mystical.
Eiseley’s essay on water is from a reflective stance, connecting past, present, and future by water. He links his own magical experiences to water, by telling of when “…I lay back in the floating position that left my face to the sky, and shoved off” (Eiseley 139) he sets his mind adrift, and “… this sort of curious absorption by water¬¬—the extension of shape by osmosis…” (Eiseley 137) he becomes an embodiment of water. He goes on to articulate his interpretation of being one with nature, geology, history, and archeology, via water. All his reveries are brought about by a view of a stagnant pool on a roof. He not only feels connected to life through water, but he lets us glimpse that water is able to dredge up his past, and stir speculations of his future. He speaks of our current evolutional phase as a waypoint on the path to the future, he writes “…I have seen myself passing by—...

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...thing but the continual torrent of concepts across the page. The turgid stream of blood coursing through my veins made of water is magic. The birth canal for original life, the place where land meets water is magic. The potential for life wherever there is water is magic. The feeling of being connected to everything through water is magic. The best memories in life can surface because water is magic. This only ripples the surface for some of the ways water is magic. My ten minutes of water watching brings to me a lifetimes reverie, and it represents one sentence of one page of my thirty-two year tome. The ultimate magic of water is that it is an billion year book, it tells an endless story, and provokes an endless bubbling of insight.

Eiseley, Loren “The Flow of the River” from Fifty Great Essays 2nd ed. 2002 Penguin Academics New York.

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