Heaven Right Now


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.

Kat is 11 days away from her 25th birthday and conflicted about whether she needs to claim a quarter-life crisis, though that sort of thing typically resolves itself. Since her full-time job in Human Resources is less than fascinating as a point of discussion, her self-described part time job is banishing the remnants of a four year brunette phase she went through by surprising herself as a natural blonde. She has spent a lifetime in Minneapolis. Kat and I were first brought together by the wonderful world of Twitter, and bonded through a sort-of cosmic kinship, and a shared love of distance running. If she lived in New York, she would definitely, definitely be a Woman of Winesday.  We’re waiting for her to start a Minneapolis Chapter.


Leave a Comment

  1. This post reminds me of one of those episodes of The Facts of Life, where the characters from Different Strokes show up…. aaaannnnd I just realized that perhaps the two of you are two young to have experienced those memorable, but not great TV events.

    An absolutely wonderful piece (peace). I love the idea of returning to the lake every year, much like salmon, but not finding the fulfillment that a bad novel would lead one to believe is coming. Home is a feeling, it’s not a place.

    The piece also reminds me of an old lesson I learned that love is not the opposite of hate; they are both opposites of apathy. We have to go through apathy to get from one to the other.

    Much luv to both of ye.

  2. I completely understand! I was raised “Up Nort” and the lakeside life is what I now strive for above all else because I have discovered it is the only true, honest living. Even so, I have been through a very long “season” of waiting for fulfillment because, whilst I am learning to Sabbath, I’m not yet back to my waterfront home nor is my loooooooooooooong awaited Beloved returned to this country. There is so much sumptuousness, beauty, gratitude and joy to be had right now, and yet, as I hold the “claim tickets” of promises in my hand I don’t yet daily experience that “my joy has been fulfilled.”

    I spend a lot of time on Pinterest looking for handmade quilts, old board games, etc. to fill my cabin home when the time comes. It makes me feel better in the now. 🙂

    Cheers to you, Guest Writer, and know that having your midlife crisis early means you’re less likely to buy the gaudy car (or hair piece) and make it obvious to everyone else around. You’ll bounce back faster. I did. (Mine was 20 years ahead of schedule.) Being “radical” enough to pursue what’s truly in your heart is much more doable than you or anyone else thinks possible. And those other people are just a lot of hot air, anyway. If they were so successful at life, they’d be too busy to critique yours.

  3. I think a few of my school friends are experiencing exactly the same thing, and they’re about your age. Now having finished dental school, working for other people, they have commented that they just don’t have any goals they’re working toward anymore and don’t care about work and the day-to-day. Neither has a significant other and both questioning their paths. I guess I also had a life-crisis in my mid- to late-20’s and ended up going back to school plus had a couple of kids. I really don’t have anything to say that will make you feel better, I suppose, but I’m sure you’ll work through it. Trust me. If you’re interested, I found this book helpful: http://www.amazon.com/Midlife-Crisis-30-Changed-Generation–And/dp/1579548679/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1345324101&sr=8-1&keywords=midlife+crisis+at+30 It was comforting because I realized I wasn’t alone in how I was feeling.

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