A late October’s day I was out in a pine forest. The autumn feel was in the air, and the warm breeze sent whiffs of sweetly decaying foliage and dried grass swirling between the trunks. That night we had camped in the forest, and in the early morning it had rained. There was a lake, and now, later in the day, the water was still and cool from the rain and from the chill night. It was the perfect day for the last swim of the season.

For a while I stood ankle-deep in the silty water. The brown leaves and pine needles mingled with seashells under my toes. The breeze ran over the surface of the water and I smiled at the thought that I had, and started moving forward. Chills ran along my arms, my hairs stood on end because the water was cold. I wanted and did not want to swim. I knew it was good for me, knew I would not regret it as soon as I was in the water and swimming, but at the moment I was warm, and dry. The thought tickled me: within a couple of seconds, or minutes, my state will be completely different. I will not be warm and dry, but cold, wet, alive, moving, breathing, feeling my heart beat, blowing bubbles in the water and feeling it slip between my outstretched fingers. I blocked the capricious part of me, and coaxed the rest to continue moving forward – knee deep, waist deep. I took a deep breath. This was it: no turning back now. I grinned and pushed off.

Of course I did not regret it. I swam and looked at the world around me through the vantage point of a turtle. How enchanting it looked. Water rippling outwards in all directions, cattails swaying in the wind, pines looming onshore. An old wooden platform extending out into the water. Green hills rolling on the other shore. Behind them – the forest. And I realized that at times like this life becomes cyclical, not linear.

I remembered my childhood. As a child, I perceived life extending back behind me and forward ahead of me in two dimensions. Events were looked forward to, happened, and drifted into the past while new events appeared on the horizon. For several years my family went to vacation in rural Lithuania, and in the lazy summertime Lithuania had the stuff my dreams were made of: pines, sandy hills with bronze and rust-colored earth, mushrooms, lakes, berries, squirrels. And there was silt between fingers, and turtles peeked out between the lily pads. The conifers stood tall and warm, the sun shimmered between the leave and if you squinted just so, you could look straight into it. And the lake of many years ago flowed seamlessly into the lake that engulfed me now, and the child and the adult melded into one living, breathing organism, into one joyful soul.

I came out of the water reborn, fresh, young. What a wonderful swim I had, one day in late October.

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