Confessions to the river



November 1, 1981


Itís Sunday.

A day of peace and the river flows below me here like a silent friend, who shows his wounds in rusted tin cans and broke bottles, and the oil slick that covers the surface like a second skin.

I come here often with my woes, and though the river gives no advice, it gives comfort, accepting my pathetic ranting about lost love and minor infractions, and flows on with them.

Today, I rant about ďme,Ē a self-centered bit of tribe that devours me from the inside with its narcissistic poison.

I feel it spreading through my chest, leaving me cold and distant.

Iíve constructed a shell around myself, emotionally, if not spiritually, trying not to let other peopleís opinions bother me.

ďYou have to protect yourself,Ē others have told me, ďLook out for number one.Ē
And I do. And yet it bothers me.

Sometimes, I suffer from spiritual narcissism, aching just to grab and run, and not look back at the landscape of damage my personal greed might cause.

I problem is I always look back, always feel bad, and though I still look out for myself, I feel guilty about it, thinking there has to be a better way to do things that doesnít cause other people pain.

The donut cook where I work tells me Iím nuts, saying that we canít look out for anybody but ourselves.

This kills me. It makes me wonder if we have managed to evolve at all from animals the way we like to think Ė doing onto others before they do onto us.

Itís not the murder and mayhem I have a problem with, itís the mistrust Ė and how I ache to trust everybody I meet, and most times itís the right thing to do, but not always, and I donít want to be one of those people with my hands in other peopleís pockets, or to grab the last donut off the shelf.

I donít want to walk around thinking Iím the most important person on the planet the way many people do Ė most often, they arenít, but think they are. And yet, there are times when I catch myself trying to get the larger piece of the pie, if only to keep some other son of a bitch from getting it first.

I read a newspaper article about one of the mill owners claiming the dead fish floating near one of the mill drains has nothing to do with his operations.

I see jerks with cross bows shooting fish from the top of the Outwater Lane Bridge just because they like killing things.† Some kids set fire to the dry brush just because they can.

And me, I guess maybe I want a piece of the action just like all of the high rollers that come up the parkway from Atlantic City, I just want to be able to look myself in the mirror and say I got there because I earned it, and sometimes, I donít want to go through all the fuss.

So I confess my sins to this old friend, river, both of us suffering each others pain, knowing that when I walk away Iíll feel a little better, until next time.



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