Islands in the stream

Gotta love Dolly and Kenny (pre-plastic surgery).

On the train the other day, I stared out of the window at the Hudson River and considered: What makes someone like rivers or lakes more than the ocean?

I originally thought it had something to do with where you grew up. Growing up next to the Hudson, I perhaps was predisposed to prefer it to crashing waves. It reminds me of home.

But could it be more fundamental than that?

For instance, what sets the ocean apart is that it is so expansive. It has no end. Float far enough from the shore and time and space have a different meaning. Perhaps loving the ocean is partly about your willingness to be in the unknown.

On the other hand, lakes have a concreteness to them. You know where the beginning and end are. On a large lake, you could find yourself lost in the middle somewhere but always know in the back of your mind that there is a way back.

Rivers are functional. Watching the Hudson you see it not only as beautiful, but also as transportation for commerce. It can technically carry you were you want to go. That is, as long as you're going its way. Like lakes, you know there are banks to rivers and that you're never truly lost.

So what does it mean to prefer these other forms of water? A preference for knowing where you stand and having boundaries within which to move. It can get overwhelming when you can go anywhere or do anything you want. How do you decide? Perhaps rivers are for when you have less patience and just want to get there already. Lakes are when you want to take your time and watch the world go by.

Maybe you can have ocean-days and river-hours depending on your mood.