Every day, I
• Log onto the computer.
• Pull into a parking space.
• Load the dishwasher.
• Walk the dog.
• Change the channels.
• Bank online.
Stuff that needs to be done.
Day after day after day.
Nothing changes. What is will always be.
Although we sometimes hope things will change, we expect everything to stay the same.
It’s part of being human.
Clinging to the familiar. Never exploring the unknown.
Ay, here’s the rub. Familiar is not forever. At any moment in time our shell of our existence can crack open. Eternity rushes in.
I was nine when my world first split from sky to sky.
Dad slept in the back bedroom after working the night shift. Mom cooked and cleaned and tried to keep the little kids quiet.
“That’s it,” Mom finally hissed when the youngest started to whine, “We’re going to the swimming hole.”.
I jumped in the station wagon and snagged a spot next to the window. After the rest of my siblings and a few stray neighborhood kids crammed in, we drove away.
At the swimming hole, I fell back into the water and let myself float.
I drifted away from the shore, daydreaming about my future; the stories I would write, the places I would go, the people I would meet.
Then, I stood up.
Water closed over my head. I couldn’t touch bottom.
Problem was, I could float on my back but I couldn’t swim.
The weight of the water pulled me down.
I clawed my way to the surface.
My head rose above the water.
I gasped and screamed. Then, I slipped under the water again.
This time, I imagined my funeral as I drifted down.
Dad standing awkwardly at her side.
When I broke the surface again, I barely made a sound.
The last time I went under, I thought,
“It’s over. I’m going to die.”
Then, something yanked my hair.
Fingers squeezed my arm.
A human chain consisting of Mom, my older siblings and kids from the neighborhood pulled me out of the deep and dragged me onto the sand.
When I got home, I crawled into bed. Dad came to my room.
“You ok?’ he said.
After Dad left, I closed my eyes.
Water washed over my head.
I couldn’t breathe.
So, I opened my eyes again. Listened to the sound of siblings playing in the back yard.
I knew what lay beneath the surface, what spread like an ocean beneath the fragile vessel of my everyday world.
Eternity. Unsettling and unpredictable.
Magnificent and unavoidable.