Rafting the River

There is a creek that splits on the North American continental divide*.  One channel, Atlantic Creek, flows east into the Yellowstone River, to the Missouri and then Mississippi rivers, hitting the Gulf of Mexico.  The other, Pacific Creek, flows west to the Snake River into the Pacific Ocean. 

The water churns merrily along, molecules of H2O entwined in a raucous aquatic parade.  Consider a gallon of water**, frozen at a moment in time upstream.  Percolating downstream.  Simply doing what water molecules do.  Each molecule traversing the moment.  Rafting.

As this conceptual gallon of water arrives at Two Ocean Pass, something rather remarkable occurs.  The fate of each molecule is determined by something random.  Something seemingly inconsequential.  Something that may itself be transient… a stick in the stream, a fish, an anomalous blip in the current due to something that happened much further upstream.

Two molecules, momentarily adjacent, diverge.  One meanders along Atlantic Creek, eventually being dumped in the Gulf of Mexico.  The other, rides the Pacific Creek out to the Snake River and emerges in the Pacific Ocean.  They never saw it coming.  And they sure as hell can’t go back…

Two Ocean Creek, Wyoming

Two Ocean Creek, Wyoming

Copyright – Ralph Maughan (image sourced here)

*Two-Ocean Creek, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming.  This spot is known as the “Parting of the Waters” National Natural Landmark.

** For reference – and my nerdier readers – a gallon of water has ~1.27 E27 molecules…


Thank you again, ms…. Still chewing on this….

18 thoughts on “Rafting the River

  1. Ah, but isn’t that life? We bounce along with all the people we know in our mythical gallon of water, and then suddenly, we come to a divide. One of us goes east, one of us goes west. And so our life goes on with people coming and going, and we just bounce merrily along.

  2. “They never saw it coming. And they sure as hell can’t go back…”

    That’s for sure. I’ve been taking stock lately, wondering how the hell the next lap’s going to configure, considering what’s come to pass. No idea. I guess I’m just along for the ride.

  3. So…where is entropy and the universal randomness carrying you? Doesn’t your intellect and free will alter that randomness? When you get to a fork in your life’s river…take it!

  4. I like the thought that if I pee in one of the creeks, it will eventually get into the ocean. If I pissed in Pacific Creek, and then I saw a picture of Jessica Alba in the Pacific Ocean, I could say, “This one time I gave Jessica Alba a golden shower!”

  5. Well, I was floating away on your words today. I’m at this place where part of me is diverging. Wanting more, but not sure what, meandering in my imagination to other towns and countries, other lifestyles. Cooler weather, new experiences. It’s the wanderlust, and it’s getting more insistent every day that I pay attention to it. Who knows what blip in the water will send me spinning one direction or shoot me back into the same old whirlpool that’s safe and familiar and, well, boring.

    Yeah, I’ve had some Darvocet today. Who knew the Darvs could make you so introspective?

  6. Ahh yes, I have had several forks where I know I took a turning, maybe right, maybe wrong, along with an unknown number of unknown forkings in my life’s road. Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien.

    Again you have taken my thoughts deeper than the Pacific Ocean

  7. these forks in the road and related ponderings seem to be going around these days – it’s hard to decide if boring is comfortable, or simply something you have to get through in order to get to something better. stupid life lessons.

  8. silverstar – optimistically, yes… but it’s when we lose the molecules we grew fond of during our merry boucing that it sucks the ass…

    calicozie – “along for the ride”…. yep. if we let ourselves…

    gnukid – i always take the fork. and sometimes the barware…

    unbearable banishment – molecular? i’m more atomic, i think…

    uncle keith – i’d like to spend an hour… just one… inside your head.

    BLT – the universe is expanding! what’s the point?

    fragrant liar – darvs rock. fully. but yeah – finding the balance, he safe/comfortable with the scary/new. for me? that’s where i’m trying to be…

    archie – “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien”. THAT, Sir Archie of Archive, is as good as it ever gets!

    nursemyra – sorry sweetie… good molecules are hard to come by…

    mstngsal – the creek at that point is a bit shallow it seems. but it leads to deepness. and some of the molecules get stuck, drank by water buffalo and peed out onto the grass and have to ultimately be either evaporated or sink back to the aquifer to start the journey over again. um… yeah. good visual, eh?

    hisqueen – destiny? or simply the water cycle?

    daisymae – not sure about others, but i crave both the comfortable and the unencountered. not happy with one or the other…

    DP – been enjoying your ‘serious sundays’ every now and again…. i’m sure you have some nuggets of philosophical wisdom that are banging around in there seeking freedom!

  9. Seeing as how I’m the queen of shallowness, can I just say that if I’m the molecule that I’d rather be in the Gulf than the Pacific. Nothing against the Pacific, per se, I’m just a Southern girl and the Gulf is more like home. Besides, I might be able to jump off at the Flora-Bama lounge and kill a beer or two or eight.

  10. hereinfranklin – yep. the pacific is cold, too. i’d rather be warm…

    Bb – nothing in particular. just contemplating shit…

    rassles – i don’t believe in ghosts. partly out of fear that they’ll cut me in my sleep…

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