Rest in the Divide

Jun 13, 2016 by

I find relief in contrast.

I see, hear and feel contrast in a land where valleys rise to the spine of the earth, where rivers cut through jagged ribs of rock, and parched deserts meet Miocene rain forest.

But tug at the seams, the stitch-lines between conflicts, and the tension seems to unfurl. Peel back reality and look to the comically droopy face of Mount Hood—you’ll see a force untouched by rivalry.

Hood doesn’t need to straighten up and stand tall, or whittle his peak to a frightening spire. He knows he’s just a piece of backbone, a single vertebral arch. He’s not jealous of Rainier or callous toward Adams.

He spends his time peering owlishly at the division before him—one side sullen gray, the other deeper green than humanly appreciable—and he loses himself in thought.

Below, the Columbia River carves her own path. She doesn’t battle Interstate 84 to be heard. Wheels and axles roar down that ink line of asphalt every day, but she’d rather hum and snore to herself.

The white noise of traffic shares a basic musical character with the cymbal roll of the river. Walking between the highway and the shoreline, you hear two mediums swishing out the same tune. The frequencies dip and flutter through the day, as do the decibels and the very timbre. But from a seat on the mossy ground, over a stretch of hours, you hear the same song.

Skinny Multnomah sings along. She falls on frigid rock every day, and endures the tickle of travelers wandering over her footbridge belt, but she doesn’t complain. She’s been afforded a vantage point at the borders of old and new.

Sometimes I think she’s saying over the chatter, “Just rest in the divide.” I find realism so malleable, so fit to rip in our hands, that Multnomah’s hippie aphorisms ring truer than fact.

When I look up to the slumped head of Hood, I know I’m not alone in my exhaustion. When the Columbia writhes in furious swells, the whine of traffic fades to petulance and I can breathe again. When waterfalls tumble forever between rock and sky, I hear them chuckling at the silly predicament they’re in.

I try to soak in the boundaries between concrete sorrow and intangible hope.

I rest in the divide.

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