-- By Tom Phillips
Every walk needs a destination, and for me it’s usually the sight of water. I’ll walk happily by the ocean, or around a lake or pond or reservoir. But the best destination is a river – preferably a big river through a great city.
The first sight of it inevitably brings a relaxation response, felt in the belly, released in the breath, and finally reflected in the mind. That’s when thoughts begin to flow – not spilling over each other and splashing like water from a broken faucet, but moving at an even pace, going somewhere.
More than any other sight in nature, a river is a mirror of the mind. The ocean seems endless, incomprehensible. A lake or pond is hemmed in, like a small-minded person with a limited repertoire of thoughts and feelings. A river is contained, but still open on both ends; you never know what will turn up in the stream, or where it will go.
Three rivers stand out in my memory: the
Thames, the Hudson,
and the Ganges.