Thesis Writing / You Never Step Into The Same River Twice (Pete Kalu)
This thesis chaptering. I’ve re-arranged it umpteen times. Each time the feel is different, the emphases shift. No arrangement so far has felt remotely satisfactory. What to do? Like those portraits whose eyes follow you across the room, I see the same problem staring at me whichever way I look and decide the only way to get round it – since the problem itself is shows no signs of shifting – is to shift myself. I find my coat.
It’s Sunday, early afternoon and I pull up in a rough parking spot with a view of the river. It’s the backdrop for lycra clad joggers, swaddled dog walkers and golfers across on the green flats of the river’s other side.
I’ve known the river since childhood. I jumped down the banks as a nipper in games of dare when it felt like flying -that hang in the air with the danger of river rocks rushing up too fast if you got your jump wrong. The rumours of crocodiles and sunken shopping trolleys. Then, in my angst filled teens, long walks with my dog, trying to figure out answers to maths homework and will Sal ever even notice me let alone go out with me? And that time it burst its banks and flooded the golf course and the new apartments complex. I’ve seen people canoe it, swim it, stepstone across it during drought. I’ve fished in it with my daughter – we caught nothing but some strange, squirming slime creature the size of my thumb in the mud at the river’s edge.
I keep staring at it through the windscreen wondering what it is about the damn river that gives it its pull. There’s something majestic in the way it curls round. I imagine the weight of it – nothing so innocently heavy as water. With a flick it could pull you under.
All these thoughts, memories slide in and out of focus. The river absorbs all my narratives and throws them off. You can’t charm or compute this river, only acknowledge its presence, watch it flow, it has no end, no beginning. And in that flow I see something that might solve my chaptering problem. You never step into the same river twice. -Heraclitus.