In the brief time I’ve been alive on this giant watery marble, I’ve come to appreciate two maxims.
One: I like ponds.
Two: Life is messy.
The first maxim took me nearly twenty-eight years to appreciate. That’s almost 10,220 days of being in or around small bodies of water, usually populated by good-natured water fowl (and Canadian Geese), and not having the faintest idea why people spent so much of their precious free time staring at lillie pads and ducks.
Well, I was an idiot.
I now realize that ponds possess the uncanny ability to provide a sanctum of elemental peace and restorative self-reflection. When I walk by the pond near our house every morning on my way to the train station, the stresses of daily life seem to disappear into the frothy white caps at the center of that wind-swept lakelet like egg yolks in a meringue.
Which brings me to maxim number two: life is messy.
I learned this one in the span of three minutes and thirty seconds.
8:19:00 AM – I’m late for the 8:20 train because I was staring at the pond, thinking about pastries. My pace quickens to a jog as I hear it approaching the station.
8:19:30 AM – My pace quickens to a sprint as passengers disembark the idling train.
8:20:00 AM – I clamber up the steps onto the train just as it lurches forward. The passengers stare at me, probably because I am sweating and wheezing and wearing the mismatched walking clothes I bought at Goodwill for twelve dollars.
8:20:30 AM – I spot an empty seat next to a serious looking woman in a business suit. I sit, but not before flinging my backpack onto the luggage rack directly above said woman’s tightly ratcheted hair bun.
8:21:00 AM – The woman screams as luke-warm coffee pours out of the travel mug – the one I had forgotten to remove from the side pocket of my backpack before tossing it like a sack of potatoes – onto her head and down her back.
8:22:00 AM – After sixty seconds of ferrying toilet paper from the bathroom to the woman while apologizing so rapidly it sounded like I was speaking Spanish, I disembark the train at the next station.
8:22:30 AM – I hail a cab.