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The murky, brown waters of the near-overflowing river gently stream by. Each drop of water in the great body seems to contain its own piece of time it flows to me, then passes me without a second thought or sound.


The cattails and all sorts of other vegetation flourish nearby. Unlike the people, the plants are probably delighted by how absurdly high the river is currently. An endless supply of water is good if you’re a plant, especially if said supply is just high enough to lightly kiss your roots. However, if the waters rise much more, the plants will feel the exact same way as the people: swamped, and tired of the god-forsaken Iowa rain.


As the water flows by, I can see countless birds careen throughout the air and hear them chattering animatedly about latest bird news, whatever it may be. Perhaps one of the hotshot birds pulled an unusually spectacular dive to stylishly nab a fish. Maybe there was an aerial collision that lead to a furious argument amongst the birds involved. The birds could be talking about politics for all I know. Regardless of the topic of conversation, the birds chirp and squabble away like gossipy housewives during a national scandal.


The bridge stands stoically in the water. It’s probably not used to the waters being so high, like children frolicking in a pool only to find themselves suddenly up to their necks in the deep-end. The gray stone of the bridge is unmoving, eternal, resisting the flow of both the river and of time as smaller, less stout things are carried away in the current.


Across the bridge lies the other bank of the river. A tall brick building proudly stands in the horizon like a mighty castle on top of a hill. No trail is on the other side to walk on, no benches to sit on, and thus nobody for me to wave to from across the river like one would wave to their mirror image. I can only see trees of varying heights and hues of green. In autumn they will become the fireworks of nature in beautiful shades of red, orange, and yellow, but for now they form a formidable green wall that seems to span for miles.


Oh, but the sky, the sky! What a beautiful sky! It is a solid gray, though no rain falls from it. The clouds blot out the harsh brightness of the sun, and a cooling breeze relives me from the humid air. With the river and the wind flowing gracefully under the gentle gray sky, I feel overcome with a feeling of peaceful solitude. I am here, while, like the bridge, everything else passes around me, allowing me to see and take note of everything.


And yet, I find no deep meaning. The bridge is a bridge, the river a river, the birds are birds, the plants are plants, and this page a page. Nothing more, nothing less. The beautiful simplicity of the scene leaves me content, but the fact that such basic things fill me, the bystander, with such profound peace is something truly wondrous. What is peace? It may be the end of a war, or it may be sitting in the back of your comfortable car while your parents drive you along in a rainy day. And yet, peace may be just this: sitting on a bench, under a gray sky, watching and feeling the water and wind flow by.



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