I had read about a trucker who would drive two states away when he had things on his mind. He’d sit at a picnic table by the Mississippi River for as along as he needed to and when he was ready, he’d drive home again. I didn’t have a picnic table by the Mississippi River, but I had my car and plenty of music to take me wherever I needed to go.
It had been a long week.
Some weeks are longer than others. The ones with Monday holidays seem longer for some reason. This five-day week was longer yet. The five days, for all that had to and did get done, seemed to drag and fly at the same time, and yet I didn’t seem to be part of it. I didn’t seem to be a part of anything. I just overachieved my way through it. How long would I do this?
I wanted to ask everyone, “What do you want from me? I can't walk on water.”
I gathered a few things. I put my wallet in my back pocket, grabbed a jacket just in case, and closed the door behind me. I walked down to my little blue car, put the key in the ignition, and drove west. It was morning when I left. I had no place to go, nowhere I had to be. I’d let my car and the roads decide. I didn’t want to pick.
The movement of the wheels on the road was in time with the music. The city falling further away in my rearview mirror, I got lighter by the mile. Maybe it wasn’t thinking that I needed. Maybe I had done too much thinking already. I pulled off to the side. Unclicked the latches to the top and pushed it back. Top down, now I had the sky along with me for the ride.
As the sun moved west with me, my posture softened. The music got more joyful. I started noticing how lovely the trees looked on this last “sort of warm” fall day. Memories of childhood things were floating in my mind like kids whispering.
I stopped for a late lunch at Nick’s diner. Lunch was a chocolate milkshake, an old-fashioned hamburger with ketchup, mustard, pickles, onion, and ordinary—the good kind of ordinary—French fries. They were served by a woman named Doris. We talked about old-time root beer stands and real hot fudge sundaes. She was my entertainment for an hour and thirty-seven minutes. When I was done she pointed me in a new direction. I’ll probably never forget her. Doris was my friend.
About two hours down the road that Doris spoke of, I found it. Boy, it was worth driving for. The sky, the sun, the water were waiting just for me. I eased off the road. I love that sound of tires on mulchy ground. I stopped the car, turned off the ignition, and just stared for a while. I grabbed my leather journal and went to find myself.
An old wooden crate sat there in the perfect spot to watch the sun and write. How it happened to be the only one and just my size, I’m not about to question. I sat down and pulled up the world.
It’s nice to have the world in front of me instead of on my shoulders. It’s hard to see how lovely the planet is when you bear the weight of it.
I wrote that in my journal as I watched the sunset.
I thought of the ways I weigh myself down with heavy thoughts and drama. It’s like covering me with so much oil. I shook off that greasy thought and set aside my journal. Instead I watched the sky change color—glorious tints of blues and grays and lavenders moving back from pinks and oranges and yellows. I felt so much room for me. I wished I could bring people here every time they asked what art meant, . . . or simplicity, . . . or elegance, . . . or peace. Yeah peace. Peace backlit with joy. Now there’s a definition of elegant simplicity.
The sunset sent a beam across the water home to me. That image of a trail of light brought my day’s journey back to mind. I had left home feeling broken, beat-up, and defeated. Now I believed that I could step out on that path of light and walk on water to the sun. The magic of a sunset can cure an aching heart, can still a restless mind.
I stayed until the path of light had faded into the water. Then my dream had run away with the sun to places people do not go.
I gathered up my things. I touched the crate one last time and looked out at the water under the starry sky. Then I closed up the car, got in, and turned the key in the ignition. I forgot to put the music on for the longest time. The amazing memory of the path of light kept playing in my mind.
For one timeless moment, I believed that I could walk on water.
The memory is a kindness that was bestowed on me.
—me strauss Letting me be