Sometimes life is just so awesome!
It’s 10:00 in the morning and I’m poolside at a fancy resort in Lake Arrowhead, California – and I’m drinking a daiquiri! It’s absolutely gorgeous up here at 5,000 feet! The trees are all brilliant shades of green. The sky is a cloudless blue. The air smells wonderfully fresh and it’s already pleasantly warm.
Yeah, I know it’s not Happy Hour (although, hey, it is somewhere in the world, right?) and, truth be told, I’m not even thirsty. But there’s this little bar right by the pool. It’s just here in front of me – like Everest. So I have to go for it!
Not too many people around at the moment. Just an older couple reading the newspaper at a table, a family introducing a toddler to the water, and two skinny, board-shorted boys of, like, 10 or 11. Maybe other guests are off hiking or boating or shopping at the village outlet stores (because anytime you spend a weekend getting in touch with nature, you do want to come back with a nice handbag).
And maybe I’ll undertake a couple of those activities today, too. I get so starved for the chance to be in the great outdoors like this – and it’s fantastic that it’s such a short drive from the crush and craziness of L.A.! I should totally take advantage, but right now I’m just kind of enjoying my drink and a bask in the sun.
Except I keep feeling these drops of water on my feet every few minutes. It’s terribly distracting – or it sure would be if I were actually doing anything.
The next time it happens, I get up some momentum and flip over in my lounge chair to discover that the periodic splashes are courtesy of the two boys. Completely unsupervised, Tom and Jerry over there are spurring each other on to do silly dives into my end of the pool. They’ll stand for a while shifting from foot to foot as they decide on some stunt, get up a head of steam running across the deck, then leap in, climb right back out and go map out their next performance. Which will no doubt involve the breaking of one or more clearly stated – not to say universally recognized – pool rules.
And I suspect that’s where a big part of the fun is.
In spite of being annoyed on several levels, I can’t help starting to observe them. After a couple more “artistic” efforts, I overhear the dark-haired boy announce he now wants to do something “legendary.” Apparently, it’s no longer enough for him to thumb his nose at authority as he unleashes his aquatic shenanigans on a basically captive audience.
No – this time his attempt must be epic.
Actually, I kind of admire this kid’s spirit. And, as I take another serious sip of my icy adult beverage, I find myself pondering the state of my own. Where does the sense of abandon go that drives us as children to clamber up into a tree at the risk of its limbs and ours, or see who can be first to swim out to a buoy, or invent our own dance steps to music only we can hear?
What’s happened to my own quest to do something legendary?
Okay, I admit I’ve never been amazingly long on ambition. But the time was when (like, one day out of ten) I’d absolutely burn with the desire to live life on an epic scale! To do something daring and lasting in this world! I guess I still get that feeling, but now it’s closer to – oh, I don’t know – one day in a hundred? Even less..?
Instead of trying to achieve anything, here I lie getting loopy before lunchtime (wow this daiquiri is good!) and carefully mapping out my next afternoon nap. With all the sunscreen I slathered on today, the only risk I’m running is brain freeze. Maybe I need to do some re-evaluating.
But I’m currently busy pulling for this gutsy kid to fulfill his ambition. For him to earn entry into the Pantheon of the Pool Heroes. To take his place in the Cannonball Hall of Fame. To boldly bust a move that no boy has gone and busted before.
To do something legendary!
The boy stands in the shade of the green trees, arms crossed over his belly, shivering as he eyes the pool – maybe becoming one with it. The water dripping off him has created a circle around his feet, temporarily enshrining the spot from which he will launch himself into the stratosphere of legends.
When the moment is right (no sooner, of course) he gallops toward the pool, plants his feet at its edge and begins a series of intricate twists and turns in mid-air. I feel like I’m watching it all unfold in slow motion as this intrepid lad executes his lofty vision! All that’s left for him to do is to stick the landing. Annnnnnd…
The landing sticks him.
Rather than making a gloriously clean entry, one whole side of his body has contacted the water’s surface in a way that doesn’t coax it to give.
The wounded warrior dog paddles to the edge of the pool, clings to the side while he catches his breath, and stoically utters only a matter-of-fact: “Ouch.” He climbs out gingerly, half of his suntanned frame now marked by a stinging swath of scarlet.
The other boy, who had been poised to make his own giant leap for mankind, appears to think better of it now. After a brief but serious powwow, the two race off to see if they can pirate one of the rowboats tied up at the dock down the way.
“Well there it is,” I sigh to myself.
Deflated by the boy’s defeat (even though he seems to have recovered pretty quickly), I ratchet my lounge chair back down to horizontal and contemplate. Ohhhh yeah, that would be why my epic tendencies faded. It’s wonderful to aim high – but, man, can it be painful to miss…
Still, the kid’s efforts were truly inspiring. Inspiring enough for me to hitch back up on one elbow and view my surroundings and prospects for the weekend with a fresh eye. I draw in another deep breath of the sweet mountain air and begin to feel like – you know what? – anything really could still be possible.
Don’t you despair, Little Man, for your deeds were not in vain! No, they have encouraged at least one sleeping soul to make today an actual hundredth day!
And in years to come, as I’m lauded by my peers (in whatever field I gain distinction), I shall accept their accolades with great humility, hastening to give credit to that youth at Lake Arrowhead who pledged to do something legendary. Never will so much be owed by so many to a belly flop!
Yes, this – this – will be my finest day!
Um, you know…right after I finish my drink.