Saturday, October 29, 2005

Walking on Water

I thought I needed thinking. Time. A place to spread my mind, room for my soul.

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


Anonymous said...

Being able to walk on water means to know how it feels to be poor and rich all at the same time:

A friend sent this to me recently ...

Being poor is knowing exactly how much everything costs.

Being poor is getting angry at your kids for asking for all the crap they see on TV.

Being poor is having to keep buying $800 cars because they're what you can afford, and then having the cars break down on you, because there's not an $800 car in America that's worth a damn.

Being poor is hoping the toothache goes away.

Being poor is knowing your kid goes to friends' houses but never has friends over to yours.

Being poor is going to the restroom before you get in the school lunch line so your friends will be ahead of you and won't hear you say "I get free lunch" when you get to the cashier.

Being poor is living next to the freeway.

Being poor is coming back to the car with your children in the back seat, clutching that box of Raisin Bran you just bought and trying to think of a way to make the kids understand that the box has to last.

Being poor is wondering if your well-off sibling is lying when he says he doesn't mind when you ask for help.

Being poor is off-brand toys.

Being poor is a heater in only one room of the house.

Being poor is knowing you can't leave $5 on the coffee table when your friends are around.

Being poor is hoping your kids don't have a growth spurt.

Being poor is stealing meat from the store, frying it up before your mom gets home and then telling her she doesn't have make dinner tonight because you're not hungry anyway.

Being poor is Goodwill underwear.

Being poor is not enough space for everyone who lives with you.

Being poor is feeling the glued soles tear off your supermarket shoes when you run around the playground.

Being poor is your kid's school being the one with the 15-year-old textbooks and no air conditioning.

Being poor is thinking $8 an hour is a really good deal.

Being poor is relying on people who don't give a damn about you.

Being poor is an overnight shift under florescent lights.

Being poor is finding the letter your mom wrote to your dad, begging him for the child support.

Being poor is a bathtub you have to empty into the toilet.

Being poor is stopping the car to take a lamp from a stranger's trash.

Being poor is making lunch for your kid when a cockroach skitters over the bread, and you looking over to see if your kid saw.

Being poor is believing a GED actually makes a goddamned difference.

Being poor is people angry at you just for walking around in the mall.

Being poor is not taking the job because you can't find someone you trust to watch your kids.

Being poor is the police busting into the apartment right next to yours.

Being poor is not talking to that girl because she'll probably just laugh at your clothes.

Being poor is hoping you'll be invited for dinner.

Being poor is a sidewalk with lots of brown glass on it.

Being poor is people thinking they know something about you by the way you talk.

Being poor is needing that 35-cent raise.

Being poor is your kid's teacher assuming you don't have any books in your home.

Being poor is six dollars short on the utility bill and no way to close the gap.

Being poor is crying when you drop the mac and cheese on the floor.

Being poor is knowing you work as hard as anyone, anywhere.

Being poor is people surprised to discover you're not actually stupid.

Being poor is people surprised to discover you're not actually lazy.

Being poor is a six-hour wait in an emergency room with a sick child asleep on your lap.

Being poor is never buying anything someone else hasn't bought first.

Being poor is picking the 10 cent ramen instead of the 12 cent ramen because that's two extra packages for every dollar.

Being poor is having to live with choices you didn't know you made when you were 14 years old.

Being poor is getting tired of people wanting you to be grateful.

Being poor is knowing you're being judged.

Being poor is a box of crayons and a $1 coloring book from a community center Santa.

Being poor is checking the coin return slot of every soda machine you go by.

Being poor is deciding that it's all right to base a relationship on shelter.

Being poor is knowing you really shouldn't spend that buck on a Lotto ticket.

Being poor is hoping the register lady will spot you the dime.

Being poor is feeling helpless when your child makes the same mistakes you did, and won't listen to you beg them against doing so.

Being poor is a cough that doesn't go away.

Being poor is making sure you don't spill on the couch, just in case you have to give it back before the lease is up.

Being poor is a $200 paycheck advance from a company that takes $250 when the paycheck comes in.

Being poor is four years of night classes for an Associates of Art degree.

Being poor is a lumpy futon bed.

Being poor is knowing where the shelter is.

Being poor is people who have never been poor wondering why you choose to be so.

Being poor is knowing how hard it is to stop being poor.

Being poor is seeing how few options you have.

Being poor is running in place.

Being poor is people wondering why you didn't leave.

"ME" Liz Strauss said...

Good noring Jozef,
Thank you for giving me that. It's something I needed to hear. I appreciate it. Please tell the friend who sent you that that I said thank you too.

Anonymous said...

Dear Liz, (indeed, you have a lovely name ;-)

Only if you have been in the deepest valley can you know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain.
Richard Nixon

May you discover the highest mountains wherever you drive ... You are worth it ...

Same friend is passing on this soulful post:
'The great lesson of don giovanni lies at the end of the opera. don giovanni has been dragged down into the inferno, but mozart does not end the opera there. six characters come out and sing a last sextet. what is mozart saying? he is saying, life goes on. it is probably the most profound thing anyone can say. as one of beckett's characters says, I can't go on. I'll go on.

nixon said it too. everything came to end for him, or seemed to, but he too discovered, life goes on. you start to hear the birds again, the sunshine starts to warm you again, the light starts to come back again. i know it's easy for someone else to say, but i always think, if life went on for people who went throughh concentration camps and lost all their families, why should it not for the rest of us.'

"ME" Liz Strauss said...

You have that wisdom already. I know you do. I have gained that learning myself . . . that is how I can be such a Pollyanna. Hope. Your friend speaks of hope. That is what lets us see and keeps us walking for our hopeful eyes always have something to look forward to, and that looking heals our hearts and mends our souls.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, sunny Liz

As the Slavic saying notes - hope dies last ;-)

"ME" Liz Strauss said...

I had not heard that, but I sure like it.
Thanks for sharing it.
Hope dies last.

Anonymous said...

Liz- I am learning about you, slowly. Blogging makes it a little harder, and in some ways easier. (I've been thinking about this after Ned's most recent poem, "blogging poetry")

I'm sorry the world weighed on you. You are strong, but you are also incredibly sensitive, and that makes the weight heavier still.

I'm glad you found a way to heal yourself. Usually we know best how to heal ourselves, though it's nice when friends can help.

Sharing this beautiful story, beautifully written, helps me remember to listen to my own healing voice.

Recently, I've stopped living much, because I'm blogging so much. This is not your concern, but your story tells me I have to stay balanced.

Walking on Water. You come as close as anyone I've ever known.


"ME" Liz Strauss said...

What a beautiful comment and compliment to my story, to me, and to you for writing it. What words could thank you adequately this writer doesn't know. Many would say you've done the impossible by setting me speechless.

I assure you I don't walk on water. But it was nice for a second to believe that I could.

The tears in my eyes are love and gratitude for a very dear friend.

Trée said...

Liz, I can't find my own words to say thanks so an unknown author is standing in for me today.

A hundred hearts would be too few
To carry all my love for you.

I trust you understand "love" in the context of gratitude and thoughtfulness.

I would really like to say more to express my gratitude but since I'm in a quoting mood today, I'll finish with Stephen King of all people:

The most important things are the hardest to say, because words diminish them.

My arms are heavy again, but it's a good heavy. :-)

Thank you Liz and may peace be with you also.

Trée said...

Check your email for instructions to find a small token of my appreciation. :-)

"ME" Liz Strauss said...

Hello Tree,
Thank you for coming by to read about peace as I told you I would write about it.

Thank you too for such lovely gifts of words you send my way.
I'm smiling with them


Anonymous said...

Something I've started to notice about your writing lately is that you're taking chances to really reach out and connect by asking the ever-imposing larger question and then searching for its answer wherever it may find you. “Walking on Water,” is satisfying on many levels. The need to get away, to just go, to put the demands of the day behind you, but without knowing necessarily where you’re going, to let yourself be in the moment, and let the car take you along until you stopped at Nick’s Diner. Your careful description of what you ate, and the interaction you had with Doris really concretized that very human need to be connected in all things no matter what, yet at the same time to pull back and take a breather. From there, though, is where your essay really starts to explore that existential aspect of life that has all of us throwing our hands up in the air sometimes. That nasty sometimes-overpowering question of “Who am I?” And though we may not necessarily discover a direct answer, we do find it indirectly by the things we find ourselves attuned with by observing and describing what’s in front of us, by the peaceful environment we have allowed ourselves to become enveloped by.
It is there that you discover and realize that “the magic of a sunset can cure an aching heart, can still a restless mind.” And there you stay “until the path of light had faded into the water.” Beautiful, Liz. Just absolutely beautiful. I am walking on water with you.

"ME" Liz Strauss said...

Thank you Scot, for naming what it is that is changing about what I'm doing. I feel a pull, but don't know where it's going. I fear that I'm disappointing some . . . I still have plenty of other stories for them.

I appreciate especially how you've taken time to explain this one to me. It is different from the rest. I've never been so draw to detail before, but here the details demanded to be part. I had to make them real. This could not be some flight of fantasy it had to be an actual experience. Maybe that is the difference.

Your comment is what got me to think that through, to verabalize that difference.

Thank you, Scot. I'm proud to have you walk with me.

Anonymous said...

Elegantly written. I just took the most beautiful trip with you - in my mind's eye.

Thank you,


"ME" Liz Strauss said...

Hello Melissa,
Welcome, You're new around here.
Come in and tell us about you.

Thank you for your lovely compliment about my writing. It's nice that you could see what I could see.


Anonymous said...

Changes in routine, especially to take time in God's natural world, has a way of restoring me when I feel burdened. That was true for my wife and me when we took a walk on a nature trail that runs along the Little Miami River today.

Liz, this is a wonderful piece of writing and a great reflection on the need to get away so that we can enter the demanding places of life with confidence, hope, and joy. That whole Sabbath thing makes sense, I guess.

Thanks for calling this piece to my attention.

Mark Daniels

"ME" Liz Strauss said...

Hello Mark,

Yes, being out in creation makes it easier to say yes to the invitation.

Thanks for sharing with me tonight as well. I left my comments on your site.

Anonymous said...

You know, I used to take long bus rides around this island I live on whenever I feel stressed out. I think maybe I should do that again, take a long busride to nowhere, or maybe to the beach or my favorite park and just sit alone and enjoy the surroundings. I haven't done that for a long time come to think of it.


Anonymous said...

ahha, syncronicity.

"I wanted to ask everyone, What do you want from me? I can't walk on water.”


And over on my bloggy, I just posted a thing about atoms. They are not solid. Just energy and empty space.

So what is holding us all in place? What is solid?

If a chair is just atoms, which are just energy and empty space, like water, then why can one hold us while the other can not?

Quantum Physics teaches that energy is not a thing, but rather, just the probability of ideas.

Therefore, Ideas Create Reality.

and if all this is true, then why is it so unthinkable that someone who BELIEVES she can walk on water

actually can.

"ME" Liz Strauss said...

Hi Liz,
What a wonderful idea. The one time I was on Singapore was for a short one night, but I saw enough to have an idea of what that might be like. I also remember thinking when I saw the bowling allwy tucked away (like everything) on the beautiful road coming in from the airport that one day I wanted to bring my friends their so that we could all say that we'd been to Singapore and gone bowling.

"ME" Liz Strauss said...

Oh Kelley,
I am laughing.
Yes it is for a reason. What you wrote in my "Walk on Water" Post.

Quantum Physics teaches that energy is not a thing, but rather, just the probability of ideas.

Therefore, Ideas Create Reality.

and if all this is true, then why is it so unthinkable that someone who BELIEVES she can walk on water

actually can.

It is not that what you say is wise. Wisdom is not such a hard thing to come by, I don't think. There is much intelligence and wisdom all around us. People just don't listen for it.

It is that you have such a beautiful, musical, truly elegant sense of joyful humor about how you share things.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.


Anonymous said...

>> beautiful road coming in from the airport that one day I wanted to bring my friends their so that we could all say that we'd been to Singapore and gone bowling.

hehe...well, if you ever come this way again, let me know. And if you want to bowl, I'm game. :)

"ME" Liz Strauss said...

Hi Liz,

One never knows. That was a past life, but this could be a past life too someday. :)

That sure would be fun--a great book title too

"Bowling in Singapore"


Anonymous said...

I am laughing too.


"ME" Liz Strauss said...

YEA! Kelley.
Then we laugh together.

Anonymous said...

Poetic as always. It's your writing signature :-)

"ME" Liz Strauss said...

Hi Eric,
Thank you,
I'm glad you liked it.

Anonymous said...

I remember reading this before. It is truly lovely. Glad I got a second reading for the chance to say so.

I am reading all of the WBA entries, and enjoying the journey very much.

Great post- thanks for sharing!

I wanted to compliment you on responding to your comments - I try but often fail.

"ME" Liz Strauss said...

Thanks Marti,
For giving me an excuse to visit this one. It's very close to my heart. It may be my most favorite piece of all.

I really appreciate your comments.

Anonymous said...

Hey Liz,



"ME" Liz Strauss said...

Hey Joe,
You're welcome