I don’t know why I let myself go down into these deep, dangerous places. Watching the water, wind around the bend, as the boats head out for their races. I let my eyes linger a little too long there as the boat goes merrily down the stream, as kids stand up on the hill in ankle-deep mud, eating plates of pasta and plain bagels, re-fueling for their next turn on the water. The trees, now lush, and full of green, stand as testaments of time and permanence. Someone mentions that she went water skiing here as a kid – and that’s what did me in. I almost laughed out loud and said, “That couldn’t be. I just found this place, and it just got here – it couldn’t be that old.” But then, I remember that I’m older than her, and that isn’t what I meant anyway.
What I meant, but couldn’t say, is that I need this place to have no permanence – no history and, more importantly, no future. Because if it has a past, with her on the water skiing, then it must have a future. Do you see what that means? This moment, in all its “alive-ness,” has an ending. These kids, that I am growing to admire and love, must leave this water, leaving ripples that simply dissolve into the shore – as if they weren’t even here. If the lake has a past, it must have a future. That means these kids will get on the bus and leave this lake, and wash the mud off their toes and stand here someday and say, just as casually as she said it, “I used to race on this water.”
So, when the kids pack up their bags, and drag them muddy calves home where moms stand waiting with washers running, they are leaving… they are leaving, what we know (and they will soon) a sliver of time where camaraderie, friendships and the goals of competition will bond them in ways that will never come to fruition again.
So, I let my eyes linger just a little too long as the boat went merrily down the stream – just long enough for my heart to get pulled into their world, and all the joy they feel today, and how fleeting this time truly is.
As my heart aches, and I look around at all of their beautiful, sweaty faces, against the backdrop of this beautiful water, and decide it is a gift to witness this place in time. I can’t quite tell if this is sadness and loss, or if I am blinded by all of this water sloshing around, and I have let myself crossover into that old-fashioned “cup-runneth-over-with joy” place.