By Brian Westbye
I have a toe dangling in still water, cool with early morning.
The water is absolutely still—dead calm—with mist lifting like wispy cobwebs. The only sounds are the occasional thwack of bird wings and the sudden sploosh of a fish surfacing and diving back under.
The cry of the loons breaks the tranquility like a rock through a window, but it is the most hauntingly beautiful crime of nature.
The first loon slips into view and cries to its partner with a two-note cadence.
“I am here.”
Moments later the second loon appears and offers a frantic confirmation. They meet in the middle and glide away, and the lake returns to stillness.
I am presently in my living room staring at endless mounds of filthy, exhaust-laden gray/brown snow. But in my mind I am sitting, toe in the water, at the end of my dock at my Maine camp. Conjuring summer, conjuring the good.
Conjuring camp has frequently spurred me on this winter, inspiring me to keep reaching, keep going. I conjure the warming sun on the dock and the rocks and pine needles, the absence of time that comes from weekends on the lake (our lake neighbors and my wife and I often say we’re on “camp time”), the gentle gauzy sound of water skiers and inner tubers on the other side, the fog of wood smoke that hangs over the water in the late sunsets. I conjure it all and am instantly transported away from this brutal winter and the daily stresses of living.
Some would call this daydreaming. I suppose it is, but I think it’s deeper than that. I think it gets right to the nut of spiritual awakening and Buddhish thought.
I conjure inner peace and light when I conjure camp. The cry of the loons in my head centers me. I get back in touch with the glory of pristine nature and the cycles of the lake, the ripples of the waves lapping the shore—lines of waves perfectly spaced. Balance and symmetry, all interconnected.
Completely interconnected, like mind, body and breath.
When conjuring camp, I’m not daydreaming about buying things I don’t need with money I don’t have. I’m not dwelling on mistakes I made two years ago. And I’m not plotting revenge against the asshole who cut me off in traffic this morning.
I am channeling inner peace, tranquility and light, and focusing on what makes me happy. Pure Dharma. It gets no more Zen than that.
I have been conjuring camp all winter, and these daydreams have left me spiritually replenished and alive. Like meditation, like appreciating the beauty and the gift of this present moment.
Toe in the water, waves lapping, the loons gliding off…mind, body and breath connected, synchronized and at peace…
Editor: Dana Gornall