The River, the Wind and Boredom

I don’t know what’s going on lately, said this ancient god. Possibly, I’ve lost my ability to dedicate to anything, you know, after so many eons . . . it’s hard to maintain the enthusiasm. How long’s it been?
A while, shrugs the Wind, looking askance at the River. But you always talk like this, for as long as I’ve known you, which, you know, has been a while—they both chuckle at this—but seriously, can’t you think of anything else to say?
I’m sorry, I’ve just been feeling a little put off lately, it’s hard to get excited.
You seemed OK that time the ladies went skinny-dipping.
I can barely taste any more. I can’t enjoy it anymore. My memory’s going, I’m telling you.
I envied you that.
The ladies?
Yeah.
But, goddamn you go everywhere! I’m stuck in this stinking direction, this embankment. It may as well be a cage, honestly. But you, look at you, you can go anywhere, top to bottom, any direction, all over.
Oh whatever. What do you want me to say, some kind of stupid lesson about life?
Neither god cares to speak for a while. Several thousand years pass before the conversation is again picked up. During that time many crude boats traveled the River, and many sweet damsels swam, and many fisherman cheered upon catching a magnificent fish. And the Wind uplifted astonishing numbers of birds, blew chills into the bones of many animals, and occasionally provided just the right delicious cooling breezes to the hot laboring faces of peasants.
Oh, I know what I was going to say, says the River.
Oh? I’m listening.
Well, when you’re not all wrapped up with the storms.
It’s my job.
I know, but still, you could be a little less accomodating.
The Wind sighs, something he does very well. What were you going to say?
Listen, I was thinking, I’m bored.
Only boring gods become bored.
I’ve heard that, but I can’t help it. I have to admit it. Boredom is inescapable. Can’t I complain to someone?
It sure does look that way.
I’m going to confront him, says the River.
I don’t recommend it, replies the Wind.
Why not?
He’s difficult. At least that’s what I’ve heard. He’s kind of a difficult customer. The Wind swished about and teased the trees.
The River quietly plied its course, while several complete lunar cycles passed.
I’m gonna call him, I can’t continue like this, said the River to the Wind finally exasperated.
Fine, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Boredom! Ennui! Whatever you call yourself! I want to talk to you. The River shouted from bank to bank from the mountains of its youth to the aged ghastly specter at the Sea (who hadn’t spoken to him since he upset her back around when crustaceans separated from worms, neither could remember the offense any more, but it had been callous.)
What do you want? Said a very drab voice.
Is that you? I need to talk to you. I’m . . . going crazy with familiarity, with the sameness, the homogeneity, the lack of any excitement!
What about those ladies who skinny-dipped in you?
Yes yes, that was fun, but honestly, even that becomes tired after a while.
So? What would you have me do about it? Said the incredibly monotonic voice.
I need help, you have to tell me how I can escape you.
During the interceding pause an entire olive harvest and pressing into oils and storing in enormous clay jars took place.
I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can do about it. I am part of the plan.
The plan? What are you talking about? The Wind jumped in, having been listening along as was his habit.
OK it’s not a plan, I was just making an excuse that I thought would satisfy the stupid River, I didn’t realize I was going to have to answer to you as well.
I’m not stupid.
He really isn’t stupid, the Wind objects.
Well let’s just say, he’s no Wind. Or even the Sea really.
Oh now, that’s just uncalled for, what’s she got that I haven’t?
The Sea? She’s very deep you know? Sensitive, and with unplumbed depths.
Of course, I knew you were going to say that. Are you . . . in love with her?
Love . . . can you imagine me in love? Look at my face?
The River gazes at the placid face of Boredom, the Wind too has a cool look.
So you see, it’s not a matter of love, it’s simply a matter of character.
Her depth.
Right, whereas, I mean, if you look at it, you’re . . . I mean, I don’t mean to insult, but, you’re not deep.
Nope, I’m shallow. The River said, precisely, with a certain immediate compunction.
No offense. Boredom’s voice was entirely passive, as if pointing out the sun was up.
Storms blew up, the clouds rolling into foreboding, dark, and enormous mushroom caps of pelting rains.
Oh damn it all, the River moped.
Now you’ll have some excitement, said Boredom.
No I won’t it’ll just be the same swelling and over-running the banks and sweeping away farm animals and babies. It’s always the same!
But it isn’t really the same, is it? Boredom carefully stated, not asked.
Of course it is! Look it’s happening now all these poor creatures I’m about to upset. The River began to swell and his surface started to impinge on his banks.
No, I mean it can’t really be the same, all the details will be utterly different. You can’t sweep the same pig away in the same manner two times. There are too many variables.
Seriously? I’m really supposed to find the difference in the pig a satisfying variation?
Why not? Boredom said as the rain pelted his broad and entirely forgettable face.
For fuck’s sake, that’s just exasperating. One pig’s the same as another, the damned things drown the same! Stop pretending I should be reveling in it.
You really are stubborn. Can’t you at least understand that you get to do something. You get to be something?
What do you mean, the River said just as a silly hog stumbled down the bank and into his currents and was swept away. Damn it all.
Well, imagine my role. I have no form, like Disease and Dream and Mirth, I just am. I never get to drown a pig, nor feel the lovely damsels swimming in my currents. Think of that, all I get to do is create the sense of endless hopeless uneventfulness.
That Mirth is a character, why not compare me to him?
There’s no comparison, Boredom said with a distant look.
So, you want to drown a hog?
His attention returned. I’m not, you know, in particular, saying that’s what I want.
Just then the powerful River began eroding some foundations and a few of the weaker structures that had been placed near the waters, were collapsed, baskets, and lumber, and straw, and piles of other flotsam along with a baby in a crib were washed rapidly downstream. The horrified mother, a pale and raven haired beauty, threw herself into the current to attempt to rescue the baby, but after a few flails she rapidly drowned.
Thrills. The River said desperately unhappy.
They always start out giving you distance, and then they get closer and closer, they forget easily the danger. Can you feel her?
You mean the dying and the dead? Of course, I feel them. I don’t know what they feel, but I feel them.
What does it feel like?
It itches.
Do the fish itch too? And the turtles, and the little things, the, what do you call them, shrimp and bugs?
No, I’m used to them. They’re like the birds in the Wind.
I feel the birds, the Wind piped up suddenly.
Fine, so tell me what the birds feel like. The River said growling with frustration.
Not right now, I’m kind of busy pushing this storm around. It’s a pretty good match, I’m getting kind of winded.
See? You should be more like the Wind, Boredom said with leveled honey-like consistency. I’d like to feel itchy.
It’s awful.
It’s hard for me to imagine any feeling being awful. What’s it feel like when you freeze in winter.
Honestly, I feel nothing in the winter. I’m asleep.
The rain increased and the River began to really make trouble even for the folks living at the higher edges of the flood zone. These were, as usual, the richer people who almost never had to worry about the seasonal flooding.
That’s really interesting, Boredom replied. Your life is fascinating.
You’re patronizing me, I’m not happy about this.
It isn’t my meaning, replied Boredom.
The rain and River were at peaks of incredible natural violence. Homes being swept away were smashing and drowning life already caught in the currents. The rain at this point was causing horrific mudslides. The people who managed to get to higher ground were finding that ground under their feet was being shockingly eroded. It was a real tragedy.
Isn’t there anything you can do about this tedium? The River moaned.
I’ll have to think about it, Boredom retreated.
Eventually, as time passed, not only did the River return to normal levels, and the rain subside but the summer was wonderful, and so were subsequent years. In fact the next several decades saw sunny and perfect seasons. Soon enough the people and animals returned and sure as the sun rose and set with Dawn’s rosy fingers, the houses crept closer, and the barns were built on the water’s edge. Beautiful damsels, more beautiful than any in history, plunged naked into his mild currents and bathed. The River sighed.
Wind?
Yes, said Wind.
Do you know if there will be any relief.
I don’t expect so.
Will Boredom return?
When he’s ready.
After a pause in which amazing technological advances allowed for beautiful metal suspension bridges and speed boats roaring up and down his length, dropping oil onto his surface, he moaned, Have you heard from the Sea?
Yeah.
Well?
She says you’re an asshole.

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