somewhere between memory and mirage, half-submerged in the stream-of-consciousness
propelled by the current and the contents of our cans we moved forward, but made little progress. for the first half of the trip i had a secure place in the center of the canoe. chris manned the bow, steve manned the keel, i manned the cooler. the early summer heat and our indifferent attitude towards lunch made the day seem more like a mirage than a concrete experience. looking back i remember images, emotions and snippets of conversation, but i have little feel for where the real story ends and personal myth begins. yet, as muddled as it may be, i am compelled to tell the story.
so, as i said, we were moving forward, but making little progress. our stated purpose was not progress but diversion. and diversion we found a plenty. every quarter mile or so we scratched the hull on another makeshift island and crashed a party. though we knew each other as outcasts, we chose not to let the strangers in on such secrets. so when they invited us to share our beer, smoke their weed, sample the texture and taste of their bodies, we did so. some of us more than others. if memory serves, i was one of the former. i think it was for that reason that i lost my privileged place in the boat and was left alone with a life jacket, dependent upon the current to make my way. i was so thankful that my six was buoyant.
at some point near the end of our excursion our case of key vanished. fortunately a couple of beautiful bodies floated by and graciously endowed us with additional supplies. flush with our good fortune we set our sights on the cliffs. once we landed steve and i scrambled up the side with sufficient supplies. our stated plan was to empty our hands before plunging into the waters below. while steve shotgunned i sought an angle that would enable me to douche our dear friend in the canoe below.
somewhere between a piss and my second can, i heard something pull up behind us. expecting more good fortune, of which this day seemed to be full, i turned my head expectantly...and was immediately disappointed. immediately deducing our plan the ranger informed us of impending danger. he then began with the questions. when he asked if i was of age i answered the affirmative. when he asked for evidence i took a draught of courage, shook my head and laughed. the officer asked, indeed he assumed, that i had seen such circumstances before. when i validated his assumption he had to question, "why don't you stop drinking?" i shrugged my shoulders indifferently and countered "why don't they change the law?" he laughed heartily and handed over the ticket almost remorsefully, promising that if i paid the fine the punishment would not have to match the crime.
it was in that moment, between my encounter with the half-hearted ranger and the adrenaline deficient plunge, that something within me clicked. a transition took place and i knew i would never be the same.
so i burned my bridges, abandoned those i had called friends and eventually repented while shanking shots at the driving range. i honestly think that i chose to follow Jesus not so much because of conviction or belief, but simply because the road was different. i figured that the narrow road could not be more meaningless than the broad, so i set out upon it.
that was almost nine years ago. since that time, i've moved forward, but made little progress. my eyes are still open to diversion and that anti-authoritarian son of a bitch that told off the trooper still emerges from time to time. nevertheless i am so thankful that something within me clicked. for as meaningless and random as the journey sometime seems, i think it is more substantial than the one that preceded it. every once in a while, the present moment definitely excluded, life seems less like a mirage and more like a concrete experience. for this i am thankful.
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