Thursday, January 2, 2014

a boy and a lake

There is an image that haunts my very soul. It’s a dark image, many silhouettes appear, coming in and out, out of focus. The sound of silence rings in the ears of those who take a view upon the scene.  When sounds do come, they are muted and create no echo. Their existence is short and provide no comfort from the escape of silence. The colors are drab and dull. Grass appears withered and dead while water provides no blue reflection, only that of dirty ponds.

there is a boy sitting at a lake. he is wearing shorts, tennis shoes, and socks that come up past his ankles. he is rather short but he is only a child. his hair is medium in length and somewhat sandy blonde…but dark as well. his shirt is baggy and dirty. he is sitting on the shore of this lake. his expression shows that of disappointment. he is playing with the rocks that are below him. he doesn’t seem to be alone but he acts as if he is. he sits there, legs bent, sitting on the ground, looking morose and lifeless. something was taken from him. nothing physical but something that every child should have…a spark….a life force. this child exists without existing. he knows it. he just waits for the next thing. he is filled with disappointment. it isn’t disappointment with himself but with someone else. at this stage he holds no disappointment for himself. he is crushed, though. he is utterly crushed. he doesn’t cry but just waits. he picks up a rock and slightly hits it on another rock, knowing very well that nothing will happen. he knows the rocks won’t break but he continues to do so. the rocks are nice and smooth. the water on the lake is calm and quiet. he is sitting there waiting for something to happen but, secretly, expects it to fail again. he is use to this kind of disappointment. this complete letdown. he doesn’t think that he actually deserves to be made happy. he figures that life is just full of letdowns. he stops hitting his rock and crosses his arms over his knees and looks out on the lake. in front of him there is a row boat. it gently sways on the still water. there are two benches and two oars inside this boat. it’s been there for quiet some time. the condition of the wood is not good, its protectant coating as long worn off and it splinters to the elements. it is as lonely and disappointed as the boy. it wants someone to validate its use and existence. it wants someone to row across the lake in it. but it sits there, half in the water, half on the shore, tied to a rock. it sits there and slowly dies and no one is watching or realizing what is happening. the boy gazes out on it but doesn’t see its weathered condition. all the boy sees is a lost promise, an unfulfilled dream. the boy sees another opportunity to be let down. the boy wants his adventure but doesn’t want it alone. his adventures alone provide no validation from the human world. he wants to be accepted. he wants people to recognize him for what he is. instead, he feels overlooked or badly looked upon. if only, he wouldn’t be let down and someone would take him over and smile down at him and return his excitement. if only someone would feed into his imagination and help create an adventure of kings. an adventure that would take that rowboat and give it a color of deep golden brown. it’s bow would be raised with ornate and elaborate wood workings. its oars would be in the shape of long branches with a leaf at the end. the boat would be the vessel that would take the boy and who he is waiting for to that special place where adventures come true. the boat would be proud to be the boy’s boat and would always be looked upon as a vessel of honor and pride. the boy would stand tall at the front of the row boat as it made its way down the clear waters that reflect a beautiful, blue sky. from the waters, the boy would be able to see everything, not just the reflection of the sky but the reflection of time and space and himself. all that in a single reflection and the boat would be sailing through. they would reach the other side of that lake. but that is just what the boy fantasizes for. the reality stings as the boat sits in the quiet, still lake and the boy continues to tap one rock with another, sitting on the shore wondering where his person is.

Me and my 90-year old self

I wait to meet him in a near empty parking lot next to some wilderness spot. He is already 20 minutes late and I am beginning to get hungry. We have a three hour hike in front of us and I am already getting hungry. I grab some nuts from my snack bag and ravenously shove them in mouth. Salted peanuts are good but too much in one bite and they can easily dry your mouth out. As I begin to chew the peanuts, I worry. I am worried that my 90-year old hiking buddy won’t be able to make it the entire hike. He is 90 years old. That is plenty years old. When I finally manage to work the peanuts to the point where they have used up all my saliva, I hear a voice behind me.

“Hey me! I am here,” he yells out with a wide smile.

I can’t believe how amazing he…er…how amazing I look at the age of 90. I am not frail or sad looking. I am a happy, energetic, go-getting man.

“Sorry I’m late but I am sure that it will be plenty worth it. I saw a wine shop on the way and had to stop in and get something. Don’t worry, I will carry it. Also, I brought more than enough instant hot chocolate to last us for years. I figured you would probably just bring the bare minimums, seeing as I know you so very well.”

I can’t help but smile at him. He does know me quite well. He was me. He knows very well what I am going to be asking him and what I need to know.

We gather our stuff and venture out. Apparently, at the age of 90, I own a small cottage which is a three hour hike in from a parking lot next to the ocean which is about 2 hours away from a city. I give a quiet smile thinking about how gregarious I will be. The hike was beautiful and full of pictures. We stopped every 30 minutes for a picture break and I picked up a few tips on good nature photos from the old man. He told me that we get into nature photography at some point focusing on animals and birds, birds especially. I find it a little odd seeing as how I only want to take pictures of squirrels.

After quite a long while, we arrive at “Château de Alexander”,  a lovely little handpainted sign tells me that. It is an extremely cozy cabin, in every sense of the word “cozy”. It is small with only one gigantic room separated by  changing screens. There are no chairs in the cottage. “I feel that when I bring people up here and they are forced to sit on the comfy pillows on the ground, they become so much more comfortable, so much faster. At the end of their stay, they are raving about how great it was to ‘camp’ out and only have pillows to sit on,” he explains.

He announces that it is time for dinner. I pull out my freeze-dried instant meals and we prepare them and eat. Even though I am talking to my future self, I am still a little shy. He seems to pick up on that and we only talk about the cottage, the hike and the pictures we took for a good long while. He takes me outside while it is still daylight and starts showing me around his garden. And by garden, I mean a two-seater swing peering out into the wilderness. He tells me that in the morning the deer come over and are really friendly, as long as we are on the swing. The moment someone stands up or someone isn’t on the swing, the deer run away and don’t return until the next morning. I become quite excited for the possibility of seeing deer close up. After a good sit on the swing, we go back inside to start our dialog, the dialog we were intended to have.

He puts on the water, in what I consider the largest pot possible. He looks over at me staring and laughs saying that we like hot water and will more than likely go through it all. He takes out the boxes of tea and hot chocolate from his bag. He is totally me. I get so happy when I see him do that that I rush over and inspect the bounty. Earl Grey, Lemongrass, Ginger, Cherry, Keemun Black! After he sees me he starts to say as I join him in unison “Keemun Black – Ginger!” We are the same. No doubt about it now. My guard is completely let down now. He grabs the wine and has me open it while he gets the fancy wine glasses from the cupboard. He tells me to pour him a glass and goes over in the pillow circle and makes himself comfortable. “The fancy looking glasses are plastic, I love me,” I think to myself as I get the glasses ready. I go over and hand him both glasses as I flop down and prepare my own little spot. He hands me my glass back and says, “this is where we begin.”

“What would you have me know?” I start.

“Only that you need to get over yourself and stat. Your entire life you have been somewhat a taker. You haven’t given enough back. In conversation, you only listen and are scared to talk to people. You are an amazing person and you have to believe me on that one. It is time for you to start demanding.”

“What things could I do or experience that would have the most positive impact on my life?

“Start meditating and practicing yoga. Trust me, it will help. I am talking about a personal practice. It is fine if you want to go to a class here and there but you need to set yourself up a home, personal practice. This needs to be for you and not have someone else do it for you. You need the discipline to do it yourself. That would be the best start for you.”

“Will that actually help me?”

“More than you know. We need the serenity from the mind. We need to break the mind into calming itself and loving itself. Only intention to love will do that. Everything you need to know, is already inside of you, you just have to let it out,” he says as he pokes my heart.

“Are you talking about my inner child?”

“And your inner teenager, and your inner 25-year old, and your inner 35-year old, and so on. Learning about these stages in your life is fantastic and learning to live together is the best. You are avoiding a pain that is not going to kill you. Now finding that pain, I remember how hard that was.”

“Can you tell me what that pain was and where to find it?”

“No, that would be cheating. Part of the pain is discovering it yourself. Feeling it yourself. ”

“Will I be married and have children at your age?”

“How old are you again? Oh yes, you are going through something right now with Chris, right? It is amazing how time heals so many wounds. Not just passive time, but the assertive, active time.”

“Are you not going to answer my last question,” I wink.

“No.” He smiles back.

“What can I do about Chris, then?”

“Give it a try. Seriously. This is where you need to start being demanding. If you aren’t demanding, then you are going to have a world of pain and hurt. Just smile, inside, and give it a go. Accept the fact that you are letting your inner child take over when you are dealing with him. You don’t want to give him attention because he consistently asks for it in his own inner child-hurt ways. You two as children, would never get along. As adults, well, I wouldn’t want to give you spoilers.”

“You are something else, you know that?”

“Hahaha! You just wait! You’ll get yours.” He says as he gets up to make some Keemun Black – Ginger tea.

“How can I learn to acknowledge the child-like actions?”

“Mindfulness. You have to stop autospeaking and start mindful talking. It is going to be difficult, tedious, and time consuming but it is worth it. Like how you are learning German right now. You are thinking of what you want to say and then you have to go over if you can say that in German. It’s the same thing with mindful speaking. Think of what you want to say, go over if that is what you actually want to say and then say it. And no, I’m not going to talk German with you.”

“So not fair that you have already experienced this conversation.”

“Someday you will have it again as well!” He hands me my cup of tea.

“Smells great! Will I be happy?”

“Oh yes, you will be. You know that feeling inside that screams for being someone else? Well it shuts up. That is how happy we are.”

“How does that voice go away?”

“You see someone one day and this person inspires you. The good thing is that instead of being fleeting like the other guys you see, it’s permanent. We see this man in the mirror. We are our own inspiration.”

“Talking to you is like reading a self-help book!” I chuckle.

“And you are quickly on your way to sounding the same.”

“Do you like the way you look?”

“I love the way I look. Sometimes I spend an extra few minutes looking in the mirror in awe at me. Not because I think I am some young twink that is oh so sexy, buy because I am perfect for me. Look at how much we look alike but how different we are! Life is incredible and I am happy to have looked like you and now like this.”

“What about amazing sex?”

“It’s just for stories. Doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.”

“How do you view humanity?”

“Like they are, such great potential. Everyone, honestly, is so very beautiful. They all make different decisions and love different things and they MOVE! Humans are so incredible.”

“Time for the meaning of life.”

“You came up with something when you were around 9 years old. It still stands. The meaning of life is to live. We were quite a brilliant child, weren’t we?”

“Yeah, we were. Still think you are a Buddhist Sage reincarnated?”



“I was so funny.”

“Apparently, I still am.”

“Listen, kid, it’s time to go to sleep. We’ve been at this for a while and regardless of what you think, I still am really old and need sleep.”

“I figured. You have sleepy bedtime eyes. I will clean up here. You go get ready for bed.”

I start cleaning up and hear the old me in the bathroom fumbling around. I have a lot to absorb from this conversation. I’m glad I’ve had this opportunity. I’m a pretty cool old dude. I finish up cleaning and prepare myself for bed. There is a king mattress in the floor with old me in it already. I jump under my blankets and wiggle comfortable.

“Will I be rich!?” I ask as I look around and realize I own a cottage.

“Spoilers,” he says as he turns out the latern and we fall asleep.