“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit at home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” (Dale Carnegie)
The River Tejo flows near where I am in Portugal. It is the longest river in the country, and becomes one with the Atlantic around an hour away in Lisbon.
Visually, the water that composes a river and the waters that build the sea could be mistaken as being one and the same. Only by physically entering a river do the differences become clear.
For one, every river I have ever entered (before it closes into the sea) has been notably shallow. I know the part of the Tejo that I am near doesn’t even reach my torso, allowing me to remain on my feet all the way to the little island that sits in the centre and naturally diverts the flow of the river.
Secondly, the currents can be incredibly strong. If you float for even one minute, it will take you five to return to where you were before you were dragged away.
There is no saltiness to the water. No pain that comes from opening your eyes to look inside the shallow depths.
And rivers can be incredibly warm, successful in absorbing the rays of the sun in ways that the ocean never really can.
When I reached the little island in the middle, I took a wooden pole that was already protuding from the sands and let my hands guide me in writing a note to nothing and no-one in particular. I left nature to do as it saw fit with my work, to which Tejo silently acknowledged me by moulding the sands with the soft power of rising tides, reducing the etchings back to a smooth surface by sunset.