As I began my morning walk around the pond today, I called my cousin in South Carolina. In hindsight, this may have been an inner voice of reason trying to find a way to keep me from stopping to inspect and pick up rocks every 30-60 second along the trail. I think this behavior pattern has a tendency to tip the balance with regard to the more grounded, reasonable side of my psyche.
Regardless of the reason, I happily chirped back and forth with my cousin as I walked swiftly around the pond to my favorite swim spot. She told me that the other day she had gone swimming in the ocean and the waves were so intense was afraid she would perish. She had called a friend who surfs and he told her to think like a fish.
“What does that mean?” I asked her. “Stay low and keep your head down?”
“I think so. I just kept diving beneath the waves.”
Our conversation shifted away from the subject of water, and we hung up a few minutes later as I reached the boulders that lead down in a wobbly staircase to the edge of the pond. I could tell the wind was picking up. The sky was growing dark and I had already passed beneath rain clouds that let fall hints of rain on my windshield on my way from Lowell to Concord.
I got in the water anyway and proceeded to struggle against the direction of the water for just underof 30 minutes. Each direction I turned with the hope that the wind would be in my favor. But I did not succeed. it was like the wind shifted just as I shifted. Was it mocking me?
“Silly human,” it said. “To truly think like a fish, you need to stay low and take cover.”
If you were able to truly think like a fish, you would have stayed low and taken cover.”
And it’s true. I am a ridiculous human. In more ways than simply giving in to the desire to feel the water close around me for 30 minutes twice a week, rain or shine.
So I struggled, my body at odds with the water, wee water striders flitting by, tiny waves lapping against my face each time I came up for air.
I watched a double-crested cormorant float by, head held proud in the air.
“See,” it seemed to say. I couldn’t tell if it was beckoning me to join it or simply taunting me. “All you have to do is float and let the water carry you where it will.”
Clearly, this cormorant did not have plans to go to Trader Joe’s and Beth, Bath, and Beyond in Nashua before heading home, taking a shower, doing some laundry, making lunch, and trying to remember the sentences it began forming in its head during its float the pond in order to record them on virtual paper and send them floating out into cyber space for other beings to discover.
Maybe, I should have cancelled my plans, rolled onto my back, closed my eyes, and let the wind and water carry me away.
But I didn’t.
As I got out of the water, I looked up and watched a monarch butterfly get carried toward the forest. Just the day before, I had watched another solitary butterfly float above my head, flapping its wings and moving toward the forest of its own accord.
“Good luck,” I called out to it. “Be careful.”
Butterflies must migrate or perish and may very well perish along the way anyway. Humans create activities that require transportation. I am not entirely sure why, but survival has only a small percentage to do with it.
If I were less stubborn, I might have stayed home with a good book. I have plenty.
But if I were less stubborn, I would be someone else.
And I may never have shared this moment in time with so many remarkable beings.