The Confluence

American River, Auburn, California
No Hands Bridge

2020. Collective trauma, global pandemic, racial upheaval, voter suppression.

I’ve been thinking about the trees lately. It’s been very hard. I think about the Georgia O’Keefe quote, “If more people were trees, I would like them better.”

I’ve reflected on the metaphor of confluence. The converging of different waters, different tines of the river. The confluence of the north and middle forks of the American River converges in Auburn.

Merging is something I think about a lot, especially in terms of identity and career. Of being told time and again, to become something to claim this or that as a identity. You have to specialize, my friend once suggested to me years ago. This was at a time I didn’t have cooking down as the thing I would try, yet.

Certainly, I wouldn’t be the first [millennial] to say I haven’t had a straight arrow graph of a career path. More like connect-the-dots, or LiteBrite. As if I were punching the holes of my path with the plastic neon pegs, punching a diagonal trajectory as I go, a pixelated design as I go. Yeah, that’s probably more accurate for me. My LiteBrite map is a rainbow sky, a galaxy of wayward constellations and planetary matter, if that’s the case.

The older I get, the more I realize that most of my friends, and probably most humans, are less one-dimensional than I would have expected. That, most of us are probably pretty damn multi-dimensional. That’s what makes us remotely interesting, right? We forget this as we doom scroll through Instagram or Facebook, behind the veneer of being close to each other but maybe not knowing a damn thing about each other.

Looking back, the only career choice I concretely and consistently remember saying I wanted to be was a writer. At the time, the only thing I knew that writers wrote for sure was books. By books, that meant novels, long-form pieces. Shorter pieces automatically meant articles for the newspapers my parents would read in the morning or the magazines I would absorb while waiting at the dentist’s office. It would not have crossed my mind to consider writing for academia or for cookbooks or to focus on any sort of speciality.

If I’m escaping 2020 with any sort of positivity, it’s knowing that I know I need to find a way to write, and ideally make a career out of it. Somehow, I’m making sense out of the multiple shards of my identity.

Different tines on the fork of river, gathering in one place, energizing and enthusing. The rapids are rushing, so you can get carried away.

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