I slip into the mountain lake: sandaled feet guard my soles from disheveling rocky bottom and unnerving greenish slime. Cold water transforms my smooth skin into plucked-chicken state, and I don’t wonder. The glacial snow tucked away in tidy shadow of the mountain stares down on us. No matter. We must live this adventure.
I tread out to my waist, then bend over and plunge forward, encasing limbs with living water, sending tremors through my being. The sun beats warm on my dry head, and I float noiselessly. My submerged limbs sway gentle and cautious beneath me, afraid to get too far away from my core, lest they traverse into severe cold.
I stay safe: able to touch, tiptoeing on the crust of dare, thrilling in the unrepressed delights of even a small adventure. Then, I feel it. A shaft of icy cold water brushing my hand, as though invisible fingers reached out their greeting hand, welcoming me to the water’s mystery.
Behind me, a caress of warmth, another spectral current rubbing my shoulders, telling me everything is good. The top eight inches feel so happy, warm and lively; and the progressive depths twist around me with fluctuating temperature, growing up my limbs like an invisibly dark branch.
I tread, and float, and feel. Sounds of boaters travel across the amplified surface. Friend’s voices pass easily in the quiet moment. We laugh, and talk, and slip into, out of, the varied pockets. Are they morphing rooms in a giant lake palace, housing fish or reed, carrying burning sun’s messages to other wings of the castle? Are they limbs of the lake itself, stretching and basking in the afternoon glory? Are they the echoes of dents, like a steel pan drum, resounding the multifaceted glory of the sun’s constant beating?
Transfixing wonder settles. I am not scared. I’m not cold, not really. I am awed, hushed by this beauty, this silence and smoothness that make everything clearer.
And in life’s lake, I float. I never wanted to tread water, never saw the point; and years passed in flurried activity for its false sense of purpose. Swimming back and forth across the lake . . . no reason, except that if I’m moving then I must be important. And now I float, and realize that treading water is not marking time, because all of a sudden, I can feel the currents around me.
Possibility to the right, potential to the left, opportunity dead ahead . . . and in it all, I can hear the pilgrim voices beside me. Hurried swimming had its point: I gained muscle mass. But it is not my purpose. The time comes when we have to stop training and start our race, stop studying how and actually do.
This isn’t an epiphany; it’s a moment’s choice.
It’s not glamorous or thrilling; it’s humiliating.
But it’s where real life happens.
Living the story fills in all the margins the books forget to tell you, all the things that happened between the key events, all the deleted chapters and boring fill-ins.
Maybe, just maybe, it’s in the cool and quiet waters that the seismic soul shifts occur.
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