In the middle of Walden Pond the monkey mind finally exhausts and I turn my head to look at the sky. I am reminded of the picture my daughter chose for the cover of her most recent musical composition, her first work for full symphony orchestra. She named it Kindred. The blue of the sky is pale and almost lost in the brilliant stark white glare of the summer sun. It reflects on the clouds causing them to appear blue grey, but it is difficult for me to get a proper look. For one I must keep to the rhythm of my breath and stroke, my head at the command of these two masters. And another, the jagged shards of light dazzle me as they fall and cause the water to dance with twinkles of silver. I would be forced to look away or be blinded.
I think of Jesi and immediately, just as I did when I first listened to Kari’s music. A sense of warmth and the overwhelming feeling I am being embraced engulf me. It is as if the water suddenly encompasses me entirely. This only lasts for a split second but it is unmistakable. It is not new to me. I know Jesi is here but I also feel as if all my kin are also right here with me in the middle of this pond as I continue my uninterrupted breath and blow and stroke and pull through the water. I feel calm and for a moment wonder if it is possible that this moment might stretch into forever. Then a voice in another part of my brain reminds me how strange that would be and by the next stroke the monkey in my head is back to jostling about from branch to branch.
But somewhere the idea of kindred has stuck.
When I clamor back onto the beach I turn around to look at the sky. Toward the end of the swim when my shoulders start aching to the beat of each stroke and I tire of the nagging of my hip flexor, already screaming with every kick, I turn my focus back to the sky. I want to imprint the silver blue grey on my memory. I am curious how I can become so absorbed by it, trying to figure out why it looks so much more amazing from the water than the beach, but it is no use. It just does. So I take yet another photo trying to capture the intangible magic of it and wander off to retrieve my towel.
I have taken to leaving my gear near the lifesavers table this year, and have struck up such a friendship with the various lifeguards that as the summer season comes to an end it dawns on me I will miss them when they pack up their flags and their buoys and their boat, and store their floats in the beach house and lock the doors for the last time. This will be a new loss for me, the sense of friendship and kinship I have shared all season with these young people who come to Walden to patrol the beach and keep it safe for us to use. Ahh, I think, that’s why the monkey kept reminding me of kinship in the pond. It is here that I find it!
And it is true, the very next day when I arrive and greet one of my favorite lifeguards he offers to put my water bottle in the fridge for me while I swam.
“For you” he says, “Certainly. You’re one of the family!”
to listen to Kari’s music go to Kindred