(I asked the juniors to come up with one word they would like to define them for this academic year. We brainstormed words and then ideas, trying to get a sense of the words we chose, what they meant to us and what we hoped they would mean to us. We challenged ourselves to write descriptively, fleshing out the details of the images we create. I chose the word flow. This is my “One Little Word” essay on it. I’ll share it with them and talk about why I chose to construct it as I did.)

I am a rock. I am hard, stubborn, recalcitrant. I push past what is difficult, survive periods of drought and batter down what stands in my way.

In the immortal words of Simon and Garfunkel, I am a rock, I am an island.

There are no bridges off this island, no tunnels into this rock. My natural, impenetrable defenses keep me safe. I withstand the ravages of time. Humanity flows around me, skimming my shores, barely altering my landscape.

I stand alone.

I am alone.

The current moves past me, taking in my jagged edges, wondering at my solidity. Continuing downstream, other obstacles place themselves in its path, and the current examines them with similar curiosity and detachment. It passes no judgment. It flows on.

I wonder at this current, lapping my shores and retreating out sea, returning later in another guise, forceful waves that batter against the stony fortress that girds me, flinging themselves across my shore, waking me. Beckoning me. Inviting me.

I accept. I leave. I flow.

I am not longer the island, but the current that surrounds the rock. I move in a stream continuously changing places with the objects and structures that share my path. Momentarily I am the rugged exterior of the island. I taste its permanence, its earthy shores, its wind-sculpted coast. I flow past, taking the memory of its piney scent with me.

I meld to my environment, blend in, share space, embrace difference, soften rough edges of rocks and islands. Invite them out to sea. I lose myself in the faint line of the horizon, that liminal space between ocean and sky. I become part of the amorphous molecular structure that is world, distinguishing not between subject and object. I flow. I am and I do.