Maria-Hélèna Pacelli

On conflict, contrast and confluence

They long for one another but do not mix, bodies of water running side by side, but never do they interwtine…

In Manaus, Brazil, there is a natural phenomenon of confluence between two rivers, the Rio Nego and Rio Solimoes, which run alongside one another for miles, sharing the same bed yet never mixing. This meeting of waters (Encontro das aguas) runs for 6km (over 3 miles).

Of these two rivers, one is dark, muddy while the other is cold with clear and pristine waters. The pulse of these rivers keeps their temperatures so far apart that their waters do not mix and keep instead their own course, even as they share the task of splitting and irrigating the same lands when running on the same track.

If it weren’t for their contrasting appearances, the conflict of their natures would not even be appparent to the human eye, yet because one is dark and murky and the other of a clear blue clarity, one can follow for the whole length of their acquaintance how they run side by side, always touching, yet never wholly mixing into one another.

How beautiful is it that the very differences that prevent them from mixing are also those than enable us to observe, from our humble human position, the extent of their common course. Completely committed to one another, these two bodies or water never lose their own essence, and it is both this contract and this confluence that offer us the beauty and wonder of gazing upon how perfectly two such fluid bodies can share a path and unite without surrendering their respective forms.

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