Of Lakes, Longing and the Digital Age

Loon Lake

It’s the weekend, and I am staring at the piece of metal in my hand.

Glancing up, I see the Fraser River floating by, grey today. It is a cold day and the clouds hang low. Though I have noted the weather, the river, the cottonwoods straining to leaf, my attention is elsewhere.

My focus is back on the piece of metal in my hand. My smartphone is warm, fits well in my palm, even though I can feel the strain in my shoulder and elbow as I hold it toward my face, it’s a comfort. I scroll through my Facebook news feed, and I see a picture of a lake.

Tears rise and I am filled with a sudden longing. I recognize the picture. It is Loon Lake, located just up in the hillsides on the forested edge of the town where I live. Ten minutes by car to the gate at the gravel entrance and another fifteen bumpy minutes up, up, up through the trees into the mountain to get to the lodge. It’s a beauty, the lake and the lodge.

I want those trees, that lake. I’m hungry for them. In the photo the lake is perfectly still, arrested as it is in time and pixels.

It is as though the longing is fixed in me, too. Permanent. There is loss here. I miss my old life. I miss the disconnected life, the life where I didn’t carry a piece of metal with me everywhere. In that life too, I am young, and filled with confident desire.

I find tears come easily these days. I am grieving. The world keeps twirling and I am riding the revolutions, my own cycles struggling to find harmony.

If I am honest, I am past middle-age now, and by rights, should even be past menopause — that secret-not-secret time of a woman’s life that we don’t really talk about. On the outside, I am youthful, vigorous, and trendy, and on the inside everything is different.

I am often angry, enraged even — sleepless and confused, and filled with holy tenderness. The world is so fleeting. My dreams keep dreaming themselves up, and the minutes, hours, days, years fly by. I miss my young self.

Time is pushing me, and I want to push back, but my hands ache, my feet hurt, and my jeans don’t fit anymore.

Online social media gurus tell me I should hustle and I just want to nap. I want to tell them to back the fuck off.

As I stare at the image of the lake on my smartphone, I have the sense that I am abusing time.

It is stillness I am famished for — and time. Time to dream, create, and make mistakes. Time to sit by the edge of the lake contemplating a swim, knowing that it doesn’t matter whether I swim or not because there will always be another day, another lake.

If I could reach back in time to my younger, pre-digital self what would I say?

“You think you need to be brave now? Just wait.”

In the Internet era we talk about FOMO, the fear of missing out, — the sense of urgency engendered by fast-moving information feeds, disappearing content, and a 24/7 economy.

As I sit here, entering the wide, white space of writing, I am not afraid that I will miss out on the online hustle. Had I been born twenty years earlier, it wouldn’t even be a factor.

It is slicing into the lake I crave.

The clean, deep, cold dive, and the perfect heart-rushing moment when body meets water and the world disappears. Suspended in water and time, alive to bone, flesh and lungs.

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