Rivers & Art: A Perfect Metaphor

I put into the Collins today with a songwriter and a woman well-traveled. The river, born upstream in a Grundy County wellspring, was at once winter cold and summer green.   My red kayak stood in almost Christmas contrast to the green tint of the river bank.

On the surface the water looked still, serene and deferring.  However, with my hand dipped down, I felt the current.  I found movement and purpose that carried me.  The pragmatic touchstone that seemed the static bank, reeled back upstream forgotten by downriver surprises.  Eddies formed, clean lines of kinetic energy rose up like a keel and I realized in that moment that rivers were the perfect metaphor for songs, for music and art of all mediums.

Like a river flows, art too exists beneath the surface.  The song, the sculpture and the painting at times may all seem stagnant and stationary.  They may appear unmoved by cause and effect and unremarkable to all but the true believer.  But there is always movement.  Like the blade of the kayak paddle confirms the drag and draw of current, the ink pen, the cupped hand and the oil brush all serve as sensors, detecting even the slightest evidence of creative intent and passion poised.

Back on the river, Canadian geese, banded water snakes and muskie shadows would jolt my attention from its peaceful, hypnotic gaze. I was moving steadily forward but needed a dramatic reminder that the lay of the land and my perspective of it was in constant flux.  I suppose the same can be said of the special melodic turn, lyrical twist or canvas reveal.  They all serve to similarly startle the senses of artist and admirer alike, maybe even inspiring one more river-mile of effort.

Not long past the Shiloh Bluffs, past the turning Chevron arc of geese tired of our relentless pursuit, came the takeout.  The Collins bank beckoned our boats to the eastern side.  Kayaks now lay dry and grounded juxtaposed to a river alive and searching.  Both gave way to voices, guitars, banjos, bass fiddles, mandolins and a campfire night of music.  Rivers & art: a perfect metaphor.

Mark Elliott – Runaway Home
“It’s The Music That Makes Us Smile”






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