In what was I still caught up and for what was I waiting. Period. I mulled this rereading everyone’s words. I thought about waiting being the hardest part; the Tom Petty on my running playlist — a beat inappropriate for the pace. I thought about Ruth in the foreign land — hopeful and faithful as she waited; I thought about the women since the beginning of time who have waited to be free.
I was still waiting.
And, sitting still, I passed the baton to Kat:
It’s 5 o’ clock now.
I watched a loon, who earlier today seemed to have a wholly intact loon-family, fly out to the middle of the lake and land, only to begin that mournful loon calling (bleating? yodeling? howling?) that loons are so good at. It seems to be one of their top three talents, behind swimming underwater for longer than we can and having red eyes.
I’m up at Big Pine Lake, which is in Crosslake, MN. Crosslake (for all of you non-Minnesotans…so probably all of you), is known as The Lake Minnetonka of the North. Lake Minnetonka is The Hamptons of Minnesota. And a red dragonfly (Spirit animal? Possibly) has just landed on my leg, which is to say that if you were dropped off here without any warning, you would recognize none of it.
Or maybe you would, if you would look at the oak and birch and pine trees and be transported home.
Up North at the Cabin. Is practically a religion here. My mother was brought up to this lake when she was six weeks old, and I was brought up here at the tender age of nine months. I have known this lake, this sunset, these trees longer than any home I’ve ever known. The family is constant, the Nixon-era decor intact. However, the black squirrels and hummingbirds are a reminder that even though it feels like home, it really isn’t.
So here we are, the loon but a speck in the middle of the lake. The photo will never reveal that to you, so please believe me when I say it was there.
And that’s the nature of nature. This has been a year of Old Testament-style living conditions. Of storms knocking down 75 year old oak trees and floods submerging entire yards. Docks floating away and oppressive heat.
It could be much worse, we say.
And in many ways it could be. We could own zero homes instead of two. Be alone in this world. Go without food. It’s all a matter of perspective and sometimes keeping calm and carrying on, keeping a stiff upper lip. All of that can be a lonely, quiet thing.
I write this, of course, in the middle of a vacation where my chief accomplishment has been floating on a raft for hours on end. How is that for perspective?
This has been a summer of waiting. Of being functionally better but not really. Of counting blessings and trying to figure out how to be thankful and happy when you cannot count the one you really want to. Of giving myself permission to turn off the eternal optimist, even if just for a short while.
I know I’m supposed to be relieved by all of this. Liberated by the chance to feel my feelings. Empowered by my consciousness. But five minutes later I’m left feeling hollow and empty instead of full to bursting. The highest light casts the deepest shadow.
And then the revelation: Hollow and empty isn’t pain, it’s the absence of anything at all.
Apathy does not feel.
Apathy. Does not. Feel.
So maybe that’s why the loon leaves his family to sing his mournful song in the middle of the lake. You can have everything and still be missing something. Sometimes, you just have to wait.