We must have been hanging around by the muddy lake for at least two hours, but it might as well have been four hours or six or ten. We were well-equipped with two plastic grocery bags filled with Cheez Its, a few bananas and apples, thermos cups filled with water, bread for the minnows that swim near the lake’s shore, and two plastic cups to catch the minnows. The essentials.
The green lily pads with their little white flowers were creeping in from each side of the small lake. Choking off the smooth surface day by day and inch by inch. Strangling it. We come here a lot, so I think I can see the change as time passes, but honestly, I’m not really sure. It’s hard to remember how it was last week or a month ago.
There’s a sameness that overwhelms this life, often washing away distant memories and chasing away ghosts. Sometimes the only guideposts are your children’s milestones: birthdays, first steps, the start and end of school, faded pencil marks on the door jamb in the kitchen. In between, there’s a slowness and a quiet that can obscure the passage of time.
There are long afternoons spent sitting by the lake doing practically nothing at all. Simply watching the children playing by the water’s edge. Trying to catch tiny fish in plastic cups.
There are countless hours over many years spent lying on floors in darkened bedrooms. Fans whirring, white noise machines gurgling, circles of soft light containing Ninja Turtles or stars or animals projected on the ceilings from nightlights plugged into the walls below. A series of contraptions all pulling in the same direction: toward elusive sleep. Your body’s physical presence serving as the final ingredient.
Many times, through the long, slow days and nights, all there is to do is sit and wait. To be physically in the same place.
The funny thing is, though, eventually your body gets used to slowing down, but your mind rarely does. Even during lazy summer afternoons when the rains pour down and the thunder rattles the windows. When your children scamper to find the comfort of your lap while the TV blares on in the background. Your mind doesn’t stop planning and analyzing and worrying.
“What should I be doing?” it asks. “Should there be more or is this enough?”
Sometimes you just have to sit back and enjoy the sameness, the slowness, the idleness. Because they don’t last forever, even if it sometimes feels like they might.