Yesterday, after being cooped up indoors for a week nursing a sick baby boy (Kita) back to health and heeding the warnings of extremely poor air quality because of the fires, I finally couldn't stand it anymore and went out to shake my feathers off. ;) So I drove up to a local favorite lake to take a short walk and swim for about an hour, I had fully expected it to be low, not having been there for the past month or so, but when I got there… it was devastating. It was a ghost town. There wasn't a soul in sight, and the air was thick with smoke from the wildfires that seem to be burning the world down right now. I was exhausted from being up all night care-taking, and pretty much at the end of my rope. And this place... was my mirror. The whole place reeked of death it seemed, and as I walked the trail to the cove I used to swim in, flies buzzed around my ears like doom, the lake was down so far below the last time I was there, it was a slip of its former self. Like a puddle in the middle of a dry well.
The cove that I swam at, no longer existed, the water was down beyond its points. So I went back and hiked down at the next best cove, but it seemed like a mile before the water line began, and reaching it was like walking on the surface of the moon… white and red rock, dry cracked earth… and when I finally got to the waters edge, I stepped in only to realize there was no more rock beneath the water, it was sediment so thick that it sucked your legs in up to the knee, and I realized I couldn’t even get in here at all, because it wasn’t safe alone. It was like quicksand, and I might get caught with no help to get out. So I did what I could to wash the 5 pounds of dark clay from my feet and hiked back towards the boat ramp where I could at least walk the concrete down to the last remaining tiny dock left in the water.
On my way back I noticed the once thriving Madrones... their leaves still green but wilted and low from thirst, the bark of the trees peeling back... the blazen orange of the death of Wild Azaleas. When I reached the lower dock, there still wasn't a soul. Just the sound of the wind in the hollow of the lakes crater.
I went out on the tiny metal dock and put my feet in, and for a moment I was a little afraid to jump in because the water was dark and there was nothing to hold on to, and I wasn’t sure if it was going to be 3ft deep or 20... just like in life, you just can't know what comes next. So I jumped anyway.
And as the water came up over me, and I began to swim in the very same waters I’d always known and loved, I just started sobbing. and sobbing... and sobbing.
This place was a perfect reflection. Of how I’ve been feeling, of things I've been fearing, these things we know and love so well, this place, like Kita, like family, like career, like everything and everyone, like the very LIFE that this is … and I can’t save it, or stop it. I can’t hold on, or let go. It is all so beautifully horribly out of my control. And a well of grief poured out with the words just repeating, while staring at the barren shores: “I’m sorry. I’m sorry... I'm sorry I can’t fix it.”
So I swam, and sobbed, in the cool soft waters. Knowing this is all so sweetly as it IS.
After awhile the tears turned into laughter, as I thought this is maybe my first time crying while swimming, and I felt a little like Alice- drowning in her own sea of tears. When I got out of the water and pulled myself up on the dock, I noticed there was just one boat left tied to it for the season, an old dilapidated house boat on its own. Not a charming kind of old, but the kind that looks positively war-torn and spent. And on the back it read: “Odyssey”
I smiled. Yep. Odyssey: a long wandering adventure or voyage usually marked by many changes of fortune.
That is the story of life indeed. And how amazing there is that story at all. How rich this seeming voyage — with all its hardships and changes of fortune: what a grand and stunning play is this life that you are.
On my way back to the car I, again, saw the beauty.
Tiny lizards were scurrying about for warm rocks... crickets chirped bright at the tree line... the dry earth bore its stunning design.
The landscape shown with the full beauty of what it IS. Not what it was, or will be. But what it is now.
Just like "you", and "me". For "we're" that.
And a thought said... “Life. It’s here! Of course it’s here. Not as lizards and dead leaves, but as ALL OF THIS.”
All of this, indeed.
All of this... indeed.
Unfortunately I didn't bring my camera, but snapped these on my phone: