The sun had begun to set. Swimming and burgers by the lake was a brilliant and spontaneous idea. The warm thick air called for something summery. Only a few families littered the beachy wood. There was a man sitting on a bench eating pizza with his son while yelling at the other son to stay away from the dock,
“it’s too deep.” he kept saying. I can’t remember how many times he told his son to ‘stand up” so he could see it wasn’t over his head but it was a lot. There was a young man sound asleep face down on a towel. A family with a strong accent and dark skin were at a picnic table to the left of us, and two older boys being bad influences out at the dock. Our two immediately headed out to the water leaving a trail of clothing behind them. They had jumped from the dock ten times before we even set up our chairs. another family of young children played chicken in the water splashing around. a single woman in front of us sat undisturbed reading a book. I can’t recall if she arrived before or after us. She had a boy with her. He stood beside her not speaking, then he walked in circles dragging his bare feet in the sand and burying his toes carefully beneath the surface of the sand. From behind he looked as if he could have been 18 years old. His soft young skin was tan from the sun. The way he stayed close by the woman reading gave me the impression he might have special needs, when he turned around and called her, “mommy” my suspicion was confirmed. He wanted to know, “how big the lake was?” but she didn’t know. He was quiet and didn’t say much. He observed the water for a long time before removing his shirt and moving closer to the place where the sand forgets that it’s dry. Simplicity and innocence radiated from his existence. The way he walked, the way he moved his hands and arms, the way he stood at the waters edge motionless watching the other children then looking down at his own feet and looking dreamily at the water moving. when we finished eating he was still standing there. not speaking or complaining or making sounds just skimming the water occasionally with his feet . he seemed content enough, His mom sat on her towel reading.
The night was moving forward, the minutes dragging past us as we talked, and watched the boys swimming and jumping and others playing in the sand. Screams of laughter would occasionally break through our serenity. Suddenly the boys mom put her book down.
“come on it’s time to go.”
“aww marme – fi mo minots, please, marme, fi mo….? read yo book.”
“I read my book.” she said in a high pitched tone, but catching a look in his eye she smiled, and gave in. “ok – go then” she knew something I didn’t. she knew him. She picked up her book and began to read again. Dusk was approaching. The wind was picking up, the air was surprisingly cooling down and I had goosebumps decorating my arms. A few children remained in the water. The boy stepped forward gracefully, dipping his foot into the water, as if he were discovering it for the first time ever. Gingerly he stepped into the water. tenderly he accepted the invitation. the water beckoned to him and him alone. No one else saw it and heard it the way he did. He listened he touched, he moved closer. He walked in until his hands could touch the top of the water with ease. He grazed the surface of the water repeatedly as he twisted his waist left and right. occasionally looking back at “marme” to check on her. He seemed so content. He stood there alone with the body of water, as if it belonged to him and him to it, not seeking for anything more than what was before him, just being. I briefly recalled my boy of 12 getting in the water with such haste and confidence. Running in at full speed without any thought of feeling or getting to know the water like this young man seemed to be doing right now. Somehow those with power and strength seem to forsake the quality of nature and selfishly take the quantity.
Do We so often forget the life that holds the world together, and yet here this boy reminded me of something. we much more than him have a special need within. He reminded me , perhaps with the way he gently seemed to connect with the lake, dance with time and water, sand and air. in this moment, he truly honored what he was stepping Into. He treated it as if it were a fragile flower and he didn’t want to break it or crush it with his desires, but he wanted to relate to it first and then embrace it. in society today We don’t treasure anything like the way he seemed to be doing so naturally. After several minutes more he still remained standing , his feet relatively unmoved his body twisting. His mother looked up and softly yet solid spoke again,
“go already, hurry up.” and she returned to her book. But he watned her to see him. He carefully lifted the rope which seperated the deep from the shallow waters, as soon as he was safely on the other side he silently plunged his body in up to his neck. looking for his mom. He echoed her words in a question form so that she would look.
“hurry up already?” Turning away from her he kicked his feet rashly and moved his arms in a childish swim towards the dock. He climbed up the ladder and stood like superman up there. Alone, finally reaching the culmination of his long journey. He raised his arms in victory.
His mother took out her camera , focused and snapped a few well framed pictures of him standing so proud and wet. “ok …jump…jump already.”
“no, I no wanna jump. I no wanna jump.” i wondered why? did he not dare treat the water with such abrasive harsh disrespect. he returned to the stairs and with his back to the water he slowly climbed down off the dock and began to swim back. it was enough for him. We left. But I thought about his victory. So far removed from anothers’ yet a great success nevertheless.
It was so easy to watch him. SO easy to watch him discover the world and the place he was willing to take within it. What a beautiful moment, it was like glimpsing the first humans with such wonder touching the world, feeling the sand in silence, observing life, grazing the water, letting it slip thorugh his hands again and again, tasting the world with such grace instead of engorging with greed. so often we take whatever we see, we rush on it and in it and consume every morsel of life without ever knowing it or understanding it. The earth remains so beautiful yet we rape it for our own pleaures, we take what we want and discard the rest. But not him, He earned the right to enter that water. He knew it and loved it and somehow connected with it and he was the only one that water responded to.