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Just Beneath the Surface

posted July 9, 2007 @ 10:22 PM  |  Open Water Swimming category

~By Akiko Busch

Published: July 8, 2007

In graphic design, the word “river” refers to the white space between words that sometimes connects in a rippling vertical pattern down the printed page. Such a river is to be avoided because it can interrupt the flow of text in an irregular pattern and distract the reader’s eye from the horizontal progression of the printed words. But just as it may be a distraction, that space between words also confirms their meaning. If a river can both separate and connect on the printed page, it is capable of doing this all the more in the natural world.

My preoccupation with swimming across rivers started in 2001. A close friend had died, my own half-century mark was approaching and my 12-year-old twin sons were in an adolescent landscape furnished with clothes, language and activities all incomprehensible to me. There was little I could do about any of these things. But for that reason, it occurred to me to find a divide that could be crossed. And more and more I came to imagine that swimming across a river might be a way to do this. Now, six years and nine rivers later, swimming across rivers has drifted toward another purpose. It seems clear now, in that way that the unexpected can sometimes take hold of intent, thwarting and subverting it, that following the path of the river is as important as crossing it. A river can connect every bit as effectively as it divides.

Read on at the New York Times

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