Goodbye to the Lake

[Editor's note: Finally The C.O. is packing up to return to the grueling routine that all those must face who are not retired and relaxing by their lake cabin. It's about time!]

After two weeks of getting sand in the suit by day and stars in the eyes by night, my idyll by the blue water of the north has ended, and it is time to wander zombie-like through airports and parking garages on my way back to my real life, filled with real people - some of them in desperate need. Before closing the door on this annual chapter of summer I must ask:

Is it possible to shift one's attention from a glorious holiday back to the day job without moping around the office like a jilted 9th grader?

Answer: at first it isn't easy - just like a butterfly looking down at its cocoon, I find myself recalling scenes from the vacation and wondering "Was that really me? Did it really happen?" There are times in our lives when we experience such intense emotions that the episode, whether it be a trip, summer job, romance, etc. records itself into our memory so vividly that it can be rewound and replayed at leisure like a selection from a movie collection stacked in the family room. Once these reflections flood the consciousness though, they can produce not simple joy, but a paradoxical emotional reaction consisting of swirls of happiness and wistful melancholy pirouetting about each other as we remember how wonderful it was to be together, yet how painful it was to say goodbye. Thus we experience one of life's most poignant sensations. Taking it to the extreme, this feeling was eloquently described by Dante in his Inferno, when the murdered lover Francesca laments:

...Nessun maggior dolore
che ricordarsi del tempo felice
ne la miseria;

("There is no greater grief
than to recall a time of happiness
while plunged in misery;")

Well, after all... it was only a vacation...let's not get carried away. But that's how much it hurts when we visit a place we love like no other and must leave it - in my case for a whole year. As summer begins to wind down this month, let us all vow to fully enjoy what time is left. Let us work on making memories that will entertain us as we're shoveling snow in January. Let's all go jump in the lake, and get ice cream cones that we don't need, and watch the August sun turn into a glowing pumpkin as it sinks into the trees, and feel the blistering heat of the day loosen its grip on the neighborhood as welcoming, breezy dusk settles in. Let's find Cassiopia among the endless diamonds of the night sky, and listen to the sassiness of the whip-poor-will while walking under the ghostly light of the full moon.

Autumn will be here soon enough, with its own gang of merry-makers. Let us do all we can to cling to the current season before it slips from our grasp and shrinks into the distance like the vision of the lake in our rear-view mirror as we slowly begin for home.


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Kind of reminds me of an old James Taylor song:
Slipping away, what can I say?
Won't you stay inside me month of May?
And hold onto this golden day,
slipping away.

Let us do all we can to cling to the current season before it slips from our grasp and shrinks into the distance like the vision of the lake in our rear-view mirror as we slowly begin for home.