“Water seeks its own level. Look at them. The Tigris, the Euphrates, the Mississippi, the Amazon, the Yangtze. The world’s great rivers. And every one of them finds its way to the ocean.”
Alison McGhee, All Rivers Flow To The Sea
I found my way to the ocean, just as Vikings did many centuries ago. Swansea, a coastal city and county in Wales, was once a thriving Viking trading post. It is positioned on the sandy South West Wales coast. Some believe that Swansea’s name came from the Old Norse, Sveinsey, signifying a bank at the mouth of the river Tawe.
It was the start of our journey organized by our son, which we named our “Industrial Revolution” tour that covered Wales and the Midlands of England. For seventeen days, we were on the go from morning to night without respite. One day, we clocked six hours of walking. We visited cotton mills, travelled on steam trains, plumbed the depths of a coal mine and saw the Newcomen engine at work.
The Industrial Revolution was an extraordinary time of growth and prosperity. It was a pivotal point in history; the dramatic shift from hand production and cottage industry to machines and manufacturing efficiency. It will come as no surprise that rivers played a fundamental role during this time. Progress was enormous, but it came at a cost.
Have you ever noticed that when you go away and then come back, you are never in the same position as you were when you first started out? New thoughts, experiences, ideas challenge our closely held values. So we really can’t go back to where we were…at the beginning.
Somehow that gives me great comfort.
“Every traveler has a home of his own, and he learns to appreciate it the more from his wandering.”