Off Islamorada, Florida Keys – March 14, 2013
All the cracks show back on the water. Everything I forgot matters again as Key West fades in the distance. The weariness across my shoulders, the tight third finger on my right hand, my salt-scraped skin, I notice all of them, fresh and bright. They all matters now because the end is no longer near.
I haven’t found my rhythm. The water feels heavy. The wind presses in my face, licks up waves in the gaps and channels, demands my attention, reminds me that it will not be easy. I paddle past sunset and into the night, feeling darkness like a heavy shadow. The water feels thick and still. A low bank of clouds sinks tight overhead.
I wonder if I made a mistake, if I should have ended it at Key West.
The clouds break and stars litter the sky in front of me. I see the gleaming edge of the Big Dipper spinning through the night, catch it and follow its lip to the North Star hanging alone in the darkness. For the first time, it’s in front of me, constant in the spinning heavens, and the world feels right again.
I’ve raced winter toward that star three times and never lost.
I look at it and everything feels right again.