There is a small lake located on the outskirts of Pigsknuckle, and when I lived here 25 years ago, I used to go there to think; to contemplate life and the decisions I had to make (or had messed up); to let my dog swim. It was MY place… quiet and peaceful, surrounded by copses of trees, open fields, and a big red barn. It’s still quiet and peaceful, except that now, in addition to that big red barn, it’s surrounded by big, expensive houses. Sigh. I don’t go there very often now, but I had the occasion to pass by on Friday evening, on the way to my book club, as one of our members lives in one of those lovely homes that borders my little lake. I was a bit early, as usual, so I pulled into the parking lot near the boat launch and I sat, warmed by the sun pouring through my windshield, and just listened to the quiet.
There were a few other people there, too, fishing from the bank. In the distance, a canoe made its slow way toward the other end of the lake – the part I’ve never actually seen (I must remedy that one day). But one person caught my attention… and held it. He was an older man – 70 at least – standing on a paddleboard in the middle of the water… in a Speedo. My first inclination was to cringe and giggle, as one does when ones sees any man (especially one in his 70’s) in a Speedo (that’s not just me, right?). But I resisted the urge.
You see, I’m trying hard to live in a less judgmental way these days; trying not to concern myself with things which, well, don’t concern me. So instead of shaking my head at this man’s questionable fashion sense (because really, as a prime candidate for 'What Not to Wear,' who am I to judge?), I just watched him.
Lean and well-muscled, tanned and white-haired, he stood straight and tall on his board, never faltering – not even once. Upright paddleboarding takes a great deal of balance and core strength, even in still water (I’ve tried it… and failed) and the ease with which he held himself upright spoke to many hours of practice and patience. He switched his paddle from side to side, cutting the dark water with long, even, powerful strokes – strokes that didn’t make a sound or splash. It was mesmerizing – watching him move silently, slowly, almost effortlessly across the water in the glow of the late-day sun. I could clearly see his focus, married to obvious relaxation, and I found myself admiring (and more than a bit jealous of) the look of sheer contentment on his face.
And I forgot all about the Speedo.