Angle to Key West: Bring on the Moment (10/25)

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Passage Island, Lake of the Woods – Octobrr 25, 2013

An aluminum boat idles past. Three fishermen hunch inside, their jackets pulled tight, heads low, eyes staring under brims. The man in the back looks at me as they pass and shakes his head.

“Hey,” he says. “You know it’s rough outside this bay ahead.”

I nod.

“I know,” I say.

The wind had shifted to the southwest, twisting around to spill waves into the gaps between islands. I’d already leaped across two, crashing over stretches of big water, slipping behind islands for cover, catching my breath, crashing again.

“This is serious water,” he says.

I nod again.

“I know,” I say.

His eyes run along the kayak from bow to stern. He shakes his head and looks at me like he thinks I will die. I smile back at him, my mouth hidden under a fleece mask. He sees nothing but crows feet and my gleaming eyes.

Where does he think I came from? Where does he want me to go? Is he hoping for company in his retreat from the island’s edge?

His shoulders shrug and he grumbles something to his friends as the engine fires to life. The aluminum hull lifts up in the water and motors away. He’s done his job. If I die, it won’t be on him.

I slide toward the gap of water and stare from the edge, my eyes calm, my chest rising and falling, my breath hot underneath my mask. The lake opens like a window to the southern horizon, waves rush in, wild with white-capped teeth.

Somewhere I know the trip will end tomorrow. In my heart, in my head, somewhere I know. But not in the waves, not watching water crash and roar against granite, not rising and falling in the mad sea. The wind, the cold, the white-tipped water, they leave no space for anything but the moment.

I squeeze the paddle in my hands, feel the plastic hull wrapped tight around my hips. Friends, both dearest friends. The motorboat’s whining engine disappears. The horizon clears my head. Rushing water holds my eyes still.

I thought the last days would be beautiful once. I thought I’d camp at night, stare into fires, and sleep on slabs of granite. I thought I’d count shooting stars, drift across bays, and write down a thousand thoughts. The secret to life, to happiness, to everything. Feelings, inspiration, dreams spilled across pages of ink. I though it would be perfect.

No.

The lake is a monster eating me alive. I don’t have time for the end. There is no poetry here. I’m too busy trying not to die.

But it is perfect.

The man in the boat is wrong. I am here to live. Bring on the waves, bring them high and wild.

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10 responses to “Angle to Key West: Bring on the Moment (10/25)

  1. In my mind there are two ways to view today’s wonderful blog. In one, the waters are telling you one more time, “Don’t ever forget me young voyageur, don’t ever forget me!” In the other, after 15 month and an almost 8,000 miles relentless experience, you are now one with the water. Regardless of how one can view this, it is unquestionable that like all great competitors, there is an authentic and well-earned mutual respect and admiration for each other. As spectators to this remarkable odyssey, we have loved the show.

  2. @ Odin — As usual, you are so right!
    Daniel, your charting is as magnificent as your writing! I know you keep me 2 weeks behind, but it’s been fun tracking you. My mapaholic self will miss the chills and thrills of your journey. You have learned so much!

  3. I am feeling so privileged to be a witness to this great voyage and the amazing community of good souls who surround Daniel. I love reading Daniel’s blogs then also the awesome responses — what a unique way to communicate! Thanks for the experience. I am so impressed that you have energy to put your thoughts in words after a “tough day on the job” — most of us would just rather kick back and veg after such a shift. I realize that you Daniel are “cut from a different cloth”.
    Safe home.

  4. Well, Damn! I notice you keep telling the wind and water to “bring it on!” You are one tough cookie, D!

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