Even with its shores now out of sight the river keeps its form for a while, the fresh river waters clinging together amidst the endless span of the dark salty ocean, as if afraid to let go. But like a memory slowly fading, where the fresh meets the brine the edges of the old river lose their definition, become blurry and vague, until it has become impossible to tell where the river ends and the ocean begins. The more time passes, the more the remnants of the river dissolve, until the river lets go completely and with final abandon releases all hold of its waters and lets them reunite with the water they once came from. The circle complete, the ocean absorbs the new arrivals effortlessly, remaining undisturbed and endless, source and destination, eternal.
Waiting for the river, past the last barriers of dunes and estuaries, lies the ocean, its vastness masked by the gentle curve of the horizon and the hazy air in the distance. Longing for the sweetness of the river, the salty water calls out to it with a low continuous rumbling, as to a long-lost lover finally returning. The river’s water, its force and drive mostly spent by now, does not resist but lets itself be drawn into the ocean’s slow dance of tides coming and going. As if mesmerised by the ocean’s rhythm the water lets go of the safety of the river’s banks and dreamily floats away from the coast, to mingle with the cold, dark ocean water.
Majestic now as the water spreads out across wide stretches of the land it flows through, in an expanse too wide to see both sides of at the same time, the current seem to slow down as if realising that in fulfilling the goal of finding the lowest point it can get to it has also brought itself to the edge of its own demise. The end is inevitable, yet the water can’t stop now. There is too much momentum, too much energy still stored from the driven rush downwards. And so the water reluctantly continues on to meet the fate its own haste created.
Once they reach the lower slopes of the mountains and the valleys below, the waters calm down. The flowing streams deepen and widen into strong, fast flowing rivers, only occasionally thrown into turmoil and chaos where they run into rocky chasms and water-worn cataracts. These rivers are now as much shaping their environment as they are shaped by it. Where they flow through deserts, life teems at their edges; where they flow through ancients plains, they carve out deep shadowy canyons; and where they reach low lying lands they deposit rich, muddy, fertile sediments. But the water itself – though parts of it gets diverted, trapped, and absorbed during its journey – keeps flowing on, driven by gravity to find the lowest places it can get to.
On their way down the tiny streams of water run into each other and combine into bigger streams, increasing their power, pushing obstacles aside or dragging them with them on their journey. The water turns from crystal clear and softly babbling rivulets into sediment-filled, thickly flowing creeks and roaring torrents. The noise of the raging water is now loud enough to drown out all other sounds. The mountainsides become echo-chambers for the water’s many voices and the air itself is almost visibly shaken by the constant roar the streams produce on their quest to find the fastest way down towards the valleys below.
Once set in motion the water ceaselessly seeks to descend, to leave the high places that kept it captive for so long and find its way down. It sneaks past rocks and gravel, through ruts and gullies, over sand and pebbles. Too weak to carve out a path for itself, the tiny rivulets are forced to find their way around even the smallest obstacles. But the water persists and keeps going, sometimes finding tiny openings to flow away through, sometimes stalled just long enough for enough water to collect to create a force strong enough to push the obstacle away, so the rush downwards can continue.
After many months have passed in which the snow though often changing was a constant cover of anything below, one morning brings something new to this mostly silent world. Starting in the places most exposed to the Sun the water kept dormant in its icy state begins to awaken. Drops begin to fall, softly into the snow, or ringing more clearly on the barren rock. As the Sun rises and its warmth penetrates deeper into the snow, water collects in tiny streams and the sound of water running amidst the snow and over the rocks grows in strength until the constant and permanent silence of the frozen landscape is replaced by the constantly changing but equally permanent murmuring of the water excitedly talking to itself and whatever it runs up against.