Saturday, March 5, 2022

And Still the Salt is on the Sidewalks

The temperature broke seventy degrees Fahrenheit today. I'd opened my windows and had been peering into the sunlight. Still though, it seemed too good to be true and so I kept on my sweater and long pants as I found my way down the stairwell (66 steps) and out into the expanse. 

Seems like other folks were doubtful as well. I pretty much had the outdoors for myself. I saw a nurse and a resident sitting on a bench across the pond. I stopped for a beat and just looked at them. I felt a breeze of happiness. It was only for a moment, but it was there. I think it was just something good about two people sharing a moment of kindness.

I talk to a lot of people with my job. It seems our conversations are rarely a trifle. This two year penitentiary of masks and distance has sucked all of the pleasantries right out of me. If people ask me "How are you?", I just don't have it in me to tell them the expected, "I'm good, how are you?" I tell them exactly how I'm doing. Don't ask, don't tell. 

Well, maybe it is a getting old thing more than it is a pandemic exhaustion thing? Old people do like to tell you all about their ailments! It's probably both, I suppose. What I do know is that people answer back in kind when they see my sincerity. I've had a lot of sidelined sidebar conversations that started with a little transparency.

February was a weirdo month for me: two years divorced, ex-wife remarried (he's a great fella), and my book was published. I'd have never guessed that this would be the context of that accomplishment. In all things, God works for the good... seems to be true. And a HUGE (spoken with my best Donald Trump imitation, and can I say how much I miss that man) thank you to my mom and dad. They've been incredible to me.

So if you see me on the trail around the pond and you ask me how I'm doing, don't be surprised when suddenly you're telling me something you've not shared with anyone else. It happens. It surrounds me. I'll tell you my story and you'll share your own.

It is sunny today and I can already sense that warmer days are coming. But I can also still feel the grip and shiver of the passed months, and still the salt is on the sidewalks.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

One Day in Deep: Polar Plunge

I was ten years old the day that I fell through the ice. Our little creek had swollen with a precious thaw and then refrozen when the temperatures dropped. We finally had a day off of school and I set out in my snowsuit and moon boots, with my trusted companion, Duke, a German Shepherd dog. Between the two of us was a leash. Although it was in my hand and around his neck, the role of alpha was undefined. 

The ice cracked and down I went. The foam rubber padded boots went from insulated warmth to stinging freezing anchors. The snowsuit from protection to liability. I was a saturated sponge, pulled to the bottom while my lungs screamed with the shock of the water. 

I went fully under. My world turned icy blue, and then black. 

The water stabbed my chest and my scream was choked. The world stopped and time was forever. This was pain. This was fear. This was shock.

And then I was violently pulled upward. My arm shot forward and then my head broke the surface. Duke was having nothing of the cold water, and my eyes met his own as he stepped backward, nose to the ice, pulling me out of the creek. 

Who was alpha, the saviour or the saved? 

I no longer cared. Duke pulled me out of the freezing water. Now, to be fair, the water of that little creek was only a couple of feet deep at best, but my ten year old head had been dunked. My imagination was rampant, and my mind was convinced that my dog had saved me from death. Who am I as a nearly 50 year old geezer to dispute it with logic?

Sometimes in life, you just need to take the plunge. 

Now, some thirty-seven years later I find myself in a hot tub with a bald dude who is younger than me but looks older, his two small children, and my daughter, a fierce and endearing eleven year old who is internally debating the challenge of a chilly outdoor swimming pool in freezing weather. Her great quandary is whether or not to put her feet into the crystal waters of that pool. 

I want more for her than timid challenges. It isn’t weather or not we deep our feet into the pool, or is whether or not we have the courage to seize the full opportunity. Not just my feet Lord, but my whole body. 

This is no time for timidity. We have waited long enough. We have put in the hard times. Many have watched us for years and honestly… no one will be surprised. This is the time. Today is one day. 

I race to the pool and I’m all in. I break through the surface of the frigid water and I feel alive. It is shocking, for sure! But it isn’t pain that greets me as my full body slips beneath the surface of the water. It is life itself. I push above the surface and my lungs pull in the air. Yes, this is it. 

I feel the electric breath that reminds me what it means to be human. We are out here, not to merely exist, but we are placed here with purpose, to dive deep and plunge into this life. And so I ask you… are you ready?

One day is today.