The five children screamed, then, as they plunged beneath the surface of the lake, they closed their mouths just in time to keep the water from rushing in. Suddenly it was as if they had never been there, and the tiny waves lapped up against the stone wall that held the bank at bay, and the surrounding tree-covered hills peeked over my shoulder, and I felt the sound of weightless bugs making tiny v-shapes across the water’s skin.
Then an eruption: five children boiling to the surface, laughter splitting their sides, and all creation breathed again, a sigh of relief. Silence carries a particular heaviness, immeasurable.
The recently emerged children sputtered and wiped the water from their eyes. They shivered and laughed, giddy with wondering where the next monster would appear. My son, nine years old and looking adventurous, pointed to the far bank and screamed. The other four children imitated his pretend terror, and the five of them sank again. Again silence rushed into the space they left behind. The sound of wind through the trees. The distant rumble of thunder.
* * * * *
We are so often propelled by fear. Of not having the right stuff. Of not being able to replace our stuff if we lost it. Of falling behind on the timeline of a “normal” life. Of straying from the responsible path. Of death.
Don’t misunderstand me – sometimes fear is a gift. Sometimes it alerts us to things that must be addressed, patterns that must be reversed, things that should be avoided.
But often the things that scare us are imaginary monsters, roaring from across the lake.
* * * * *
There is wisdom in the play of children. These five children knew, so far as pretend monsters are concerned, that escape does not require running – it’s much simpler than that.
Sometimes all you have to do is close your eyes and ears to it.
* * * * *
What imaginary monsters do you pay too much attention to?