Change without and within

viaduct

Photo property of Iejano (www.flickr.com/photos/lejano/). Used without permission but undying appreciation.

There is a bridge that crosses Toronto’s Don River—the Queen Street Viaduct—that is itself bridged by an arch inscribed with the message:

“This river I step in is not the river I stand in”

The sentiment, I have learned, is an adaptation of the teachings of Heraclitus as handed down in Plato’s Cratylus:

“Everything changes and nothing stands still. You could not step into the same river twice.”

It is a concept that I have come to embrace deeply through my many walks around and across Toronto, my camera firmly planted in front of my face.

Although I regularly seek new routes to follow in the hopes of discovering previously unknown treasures (at least unknown to me), I also revisit well-trodden routes to explore the changes that occur from visit to visit.

As Heraclitus suggested, our world is one of constant transformation if we but seek to see it.

Every nature walk brings me new species of plants and animals to photograph and opportunities to better appreciate the ones I see regularly.

Every lane way and alley along the grid of thoroughfares that cross my city, offer me windows into the temperments of street artists and social commentators who splash their messages and visions on every surface in dazzling colour.

Grime

These displays and their constant revision is one of the reasons why I will never be bored on any of my walks. But there is another reason that resonates within me much more deeply.

I am constantly changing.

Just as Heraclitus suggested that the river flows and so is not the same from one minute to the next, my life and my experiences continually flow and so I do not greet my world in the same way from one minute to the next.

The same yellow warbler might sit on exactly the same branch at the same time tomorrow and I might never see it. And even if I did, I would appreciate it in a completely different manner for reasons I cannot begin to fathom and recount today.

Yellow warbler

Every experience—regardless of whether I am conscious of it—changes me and influences how I frame and absorb my universe. Acknowledging that helps ensure that I am open to all of these new experiences within supposedly familiar ground.

Thus, to paraphrase the Queen Street Viaduct:

“These eyes I look with are not the eyes I see with”

Believing this, I live in an amazing world and embrace every moment for its wonder.

Crème de Glace

So beautiful

So beautiful

Leaving the house to go to work,

I open my door to find

My world transformed.

Branches of the trees

Hang a little lower

In the cold morning air,

Suffering the burden

Of a coat transparent.

The rains of late evening

Have been transformed

As o’ernight mercury fell,

And the harsh rough bark

Gained a smooth icy coat,

Glimmers in the early light of day.

 

Droplets that formed

On branch tips and boughs

Are caught in tableaux,

Diamonds reaching out

To cut glace.

In the modest light of morn,

An explosion of stars

As branches dance

On the breeze,

And the horizon is littered

With silvers and golds

Of ice and leaves yet true.

 

An image in transition.

The day is a busy one.

As the run rises higher

And the ebon bark

Absorbs Helios’ glow,

The ice will melt;

Diamonds lost forever,

Stars fallen to earth.

And we’ll await

Another day,

Other magical illusions.

(Written 17 years ago, this seems appropriate today.)