Sometimes, The Eddies

It is not easy standing your ground in a raging river.

It takes constant vigilance lest you be swept off your feet and disappear below the surface of muddy and turbulent waters.

In those times, it takes all the energy you have just to hold your place. You can do this for a while.

Then, when and if you can, you seek out an eddy. The waters still flow there, but you take the chance to look around in that calmer hour to remember why it was you got wet in the first place.

From that still place yesterday, I found solace in the finest details of the most ordinary things just outside my door.

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That did me a world–this one and only world–of good.

Flow can be an enemy. Flow can be a healing balm. We step from the currents to the eddies and back again, perhaps each time learning how to balance our rage against  the river with complete surrender to the solitude in the slack waters, when–and if– they come.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. The light on your subject matter against the black background is very lovely indeed. Your words about seeking an eddy are sure true for me. I love my life because I take one or more month trips far away from all it entails. I return refreshed, un-burned out, once again totally enjoying what I have involved myself in.

  2. Not sure if you’d heard; but, NASA has set up a website ( that will allow people to enter their name so their name can go on a test flight of Orion (spacecraft being developed for Mars flight). Test flights are in December; have to get names in this month.