Retreat


Sometimes when I can't take anymore news of greed and evil and hate, I go for a walk. I walk out into the woods. Among the pines and wild magnolias there is an old-growth oak tree, its branches so big they nearly touch the ground. At the foot of the old oak is a pool of water, fed by a spring. I dive in.


Down, down, down, until the slate blue water becomes the dark navy of the night sky. Before I reach the bottom, I become suspended in the blue velvet of the water. I spin around and kick my feet like a mermaid's tale. My hair floats around me like a halo. And then I breathe.


How can I breathe? I ask the Dolphin. It's simple, he says; you take in the good and let out the bad. Yes, that is simple, I agree.


I see the Sea Horse. His belly is full of babies. Did you eat them? I ask. No! he insists; I feed them and grow them until they are ready to be born. Why doesn't the mother carry them? I ask. Mothers can't do everything, he says. Indeed, they cannot, I agree. We must help each other, he says.


I see the Jellyfish. She is gracefully floating by. How do you float so serenely? I ask. Don't believe all that your eyes see, she insists; I work very hard to keep swimming. But I can't see it! I maintain. No, she agrees; you cannot.


I see the Shrimp. His big black eyes look all around. Hello, Shrimp, I say; what did you do today? Today, I survived, he says. Well that doesn't sound very productive, I assert. There are many who want to eat me, he says; surviving is enough.


I see the Angelfish. There are two of them. I never see you alone, I say. I never am, she confirms; surviving alone is hard. Yes, I agree; much better to have a friend to swim through life with.


I see the Starfish. He is missing an arm. Oh dear! I exclaim, whatever happened? It's okay, he insists; I can grow a new one. That sounds very difficult, I say; does it hurt? Change can be painful, he agrees; but growing keeps me alive.


Soon I must go. I peacefully ascend back to the top of the pool, at the foot of the old oak, in the midst of the woods. I return to peacefully take in the good and let out the bad. To help others. To know there is more going on inside than I can see. To accept that surviving is enough. To swim through life with friends. To grow and stay alive. And the greed and evil and hate momentarily retreats.