Crossing the Danube

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The body, they say, is a boat and the soul is the sailor. Samsara is the ocean which is crossed by the great sages.
-Uttaradhyayana Sutra 23.73

As I sat on the balcony of the residence house at Plein Air Oryahovo looking down from the hill on the Danube and the flat sprawl of Rumania beyond the river I was trying to come up with a meaningful artwork. "Maybe I should swim across the river?" I said thinking out loud.

"You are gong to swim across the river?" asked Ruen, "That's great You WILL swim across the river!" he said more forcefully, "This has meaning to the Bulgarian people". Thus the negotiations with the fisherman and the Rumanian border patrol started. I was aware that the Bulgarians crossed the Danube in the 7th century under khan Asparuh and I was interested in the role the river played in European history.

It has stood as a border between many European states, The Roman Empire and the so-called Barbarians, Communism and Democracy. This border has been used in armed and cultural conflicts that Europe has participated in since its beginnings. Yet, beyond the rigidity of the border concept, the river itself is a symbol of impermanence, continually changing from one moment to the other and metaphorically symbolizing life itself. It moves forward despite the wars, quarrels and righteous insults that the various tribes of Europe subject each other to. It moves on blaming no one.

The simple act of swimming across a river symbolized for me the crossing of a linguistic, cultural and political boundary while being made oblivious to it's discriminatory properties by the cleansing renewal of the ever-changing stream of life. It is with great reverence that I dedicate this piece to Ruen Ruenov whose foresight crossed many creative boundaries in life and whose passing to the other side has left us mourning a visionary.