Repeating Decimal

Repeating Decimal

 

“I sat there and forgot and forgot, until what remained was the river that went by and I who watched. On the river the heat mirages danced with each other and then they danced through each other and then they joined hands and danced around each other. Eventually the water joined the river, and there was only one of us. I believe it was the river. As the heat mirages on the river in front of me danced with and through each other, I could feel patterns from my own life joining with them.” Maclean

 

Water — James River, Virginia

 

I have been watching the waters in the river and recording its unpredictable patterns. As I have returned to the same location on the river week after week, different shapes continuously emerge, blend, and merge with other forms, and the patterns formed of light and shadow dance and play on the surface of the water. The movement is different each time, changed by volume, the wind, and the rocks that lie beneath. As an observer I can get lost in its recurring patterns, motion, and its constant breaking of symmetry. Although difficult, I like to trail a wave but it quickly joins with other waves like a passing memory. In a still photograph a wave appears to be a complete form, but in the presence of time, it unfolds much like a repeating fraction. I imagine Leonard da Vinci watching water whirling in an eddy, studying the motions of current, gazing and lost in its flow, and I wonder what he would have done with a camera.

“Water is sometimes sharp and sometimes strong, sometimes acid and sometimes bitter, sometimes sweet and sometimes thick or thin, sometimes it is seen bringing hurt or pestilence, sometime health-giving, sometimes poisonous. It suffers change into as many natures as are the different places through which it passes. And as the mirror changes with the color of its subject, so it alters with the nature of the place, becoming noisome, laxative, astringent, sulfurous, salty, incarnadined, mournful, raging, angry, red, yellow, green, black, blue, greasy, fat or slim. Sometimes it starts a conflagration, sometimes it extinguishes one; is warm and is cold, carries away or sets down, hollows out or builds up, tears or establishes, fills or empties, raises itself or burrows down, speeds or is still; is the cause at times of life or death, or increase or privation, nourishes at times and at others does the contrary; at times has a tang, at times is without savor, sometimes submerging the valleys with great floods. In time and with water, everything changes.” Leonardo da Vinci

It seems to me that everything is like water. The rivers, the roads, the patterns in my heart and on my fingertips, appear to be whirling, flowing, spinning and winding turbulently. Even the words slowly forming in my mind, memories of thoughts vanish so swiftly like waves in a wake. Everything always a fraction of itself, changes in accordance to its surroundings, it neighbor. A wave moves because of other waves pushing past rocks and pulling in and out of eddies.