(We know the day we were born, but most of us do not know the day we will die. This love letter to my life is written on the day I've designated as my death day, the 17th of every month, and reminds me to be grateful for my incredible life.)
Twisting around another narrow, hairpin turn, I knew I was on the wrong road. There was no signal on my phone to show me where I was or how to get to where I wanted to go, so frustration rose as I did an ungraceful 3-point … or 13-point … u-turn.
What was I doing out here in the middle of nowhere?
I could be home, safe in my little nest.
Thank god I’m not pulling the trailer I almost bought.
I’d just unhitch it and leave it.
Thoughts about what I was doing … and why … jumbled through my brain. Was I crazy to be trying to go kayaking by myself? Had I just wasted a bunch of money on the kayak and an easy-up rack? I’d never kayaked by myself before … at 73, did any of this make sense?
Of course, it wasn’t like I was wandering the mountains of Patagonia. I was a few miles outside Grass Valley, California, looking for Scotts Flat Lake, where I had swum many times before. But, still, I was lost: hot, tired and frustrated, not at all sure I was up to the task ahead of me. What if the rack didn’t work? What if I couldn’t get the kayak to the water? Did I remember the paddles? What if … ? What if …?
What I really wanted was to go home … curl up on my comfy couch with my computer. When I finally knew where I was, it was a crossroads decision: lake or home?
|Scotts Flat Lake|
An image of cool water and my lime-green kayak on the soft turquoise lake carried the day, but the challenges weren’t over. The kayak is light but awkward and the haul from the parking spot to the water stretched across an eternity of concrete. I tried but couldn’t carry it more than a few feet without being a siren screaming for help: Old lady needs rescuing!
Once more, visions of the comforts of home filled my head, but it was now or never. Finally, I just grabbed a handle and dragged the boat to the water. Of course, it was down hill and the thought of dragging it back up again launched a dozen new worries.
I would like to end this saga with an upbeat statement about how the gloriously cool, beautiful water washed away all my frustrations, and I kayaked into the sunset … however, it didn’t quite work out that way. The water was wonderful and it was great to be back in a kayak ... but, my hat was wrong, I didn’t have sunglasses or straps for my prescription glasses, my water sandals vacuumed up sand and rocks, hobbling me when I beached, and I didn’t know if my waterproof camera bag would work. Plus, I kept thinking about that long haul back up the hill.
In other words, worrying and fretting stole much of the joy of being in and on the water, something I had yearned for. The trip home continued the frustration. I was going to explore Donner Lake but my low fuel light came on just as I exited toward the marina. Another u-turn, a minimal input of $4.15 gas, and a bag of potato chips and I was headed for home where I arrived … exhausted, sore from uphill hauling of the kayak and an hour of qi gong in the morning, and basically brain-fried.
Morning after: Amazing what a good night’s sleep will do. Showering off the after-effects of yesterday, I realized I’m not ready to give in to the entropy of age. I don’t worry about gray hair and wrinkles, but I don’t want to lose the strength needed to live the life I want to live. I walk every day, but I need more upper body strength and I need to keep pushing into the activities that bring me joy.
All of this morphed into an acronym formula for this stage of life … SAG: Strong - Active - Growing … and a bit of humor …
When you start to sag, at least SAG right.
Then an E showed up … SAGE … Strong - Active - Growing - Enjoying life.
That’s what I want to be as long as possible.