Saturday, September 1, 2007


Flash! Boom! Crash! Bright stars explode over the river. The Brisbane River Festival fireworks light up the warm night sky and shed magical light along the river corridor, the watery heart of this place. This annual ritual marks the opening night of the Festival and honours the splendour of the waterway as thousands of people line the riverbank to bask in the shower of multi-coloured sparks. The river is a symbol of the flow of life (in the big scheme of things), and connecting to the river can and does connect us with the flow of life effervescent in the dynamic land and river interface.

The tide is low today and I stumble gingerly down the riverback to immerse myself in mangrove-ness. But all that happens is I sink ankle deep in mud. Extracting my feet slurpily I walk carefully through the detritis and weeds and get back on track. High above the trees are screeching with cocky-ness as a flock of white cockatoos settle onto the open branches in search of food. The tiny pardalots dance in the bushy branches just above the water. The ravens caw. And as I've noticed all week, the kites have flown and the untidy nest over the river is empty. Farewell majestic creatures.

Early on there was a sudden downpour. A rush of luscious rain. It's left a hint of moisture on the leaves and a lustrous smell of earthy-ness. Breathe in the earth. Slow down. Breathe out. Breathe in the river. Walk and breathe. Walk and breathe. In and out like the tides. Feel the sense of river-ness.

The inspirational Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn has created a touchingly meaningful walking meditation and he explains it like this:

'We walk slowly, in a relaxed way, keeping a light smile on our lips. When we practice this way, we feel deeply at ease, and our steps are those of the most secure person on Earth. All our sorrows and anxieties drop away, and peace and joy fill our hearts. Anyone can do it. It takes only a little time, a little mindfulness, and the wish to be happy.'

He adds that: 'When you begin to practice walking meditation, you might feel unbalanced, like a baby learning to walk. Follow your breathing, dwell mindfully on your steps, and soon you will find your balance. Visualize a tiger walking slowly, and you will find that your steps become as majestic as the steps of a tiger.'

As I walk meditatingly the sun comes out and lights up the water. It's dazzling. Another gorgeous day on the river.