I broke away from the other kayakers. They were intent on finding a trail that was obscured and hidden in a small cove. It was supposed to begin on a tiny stretch of sand and among the blueberry bushes. It led to a small body of water called Loon Pond (some called it Lost Pond). I told the group that I had a sore ankle that needed some attention…and rest. I wanted, for some unknown reason to avoid the woods on this day. I dreaded the shadows and the patches of darkness among the trees. I didn’t feel things were right for me about the short hike. In reality, my ankle was fine…it was the deep tight pain in my left chest area that concerned me. I wanted the sunshine, the sky, the clouds and the shoreline of green firs, pines and tamarack. I also wanted to be alone and think.
And my chest hurt.
So, I turned my boat around and paddled for a few minutes. I had not taken my usual small lightweight kayak (the electric blue one with the white trim). No, I chose an older Old Town that was bright red. It had a larger cockpit so I could put my knees up and stretch a little more. I pushed forward and put my feet on the deck, resting on the PFD that I kept under the bungee cords in front of the cockpit. I put my head back. I watched the scattered cumulus clouds drift slowly beneath a deep blue sky. A slight breeze blew at my back. I took out my book but was unable to read two lines. Back into the nylon bag it went. I pulled my raspberry hat over my eyes and closed them. The boat gently rocked in the small waves. The breeze was causing me to drift in the general direction of our home. No other boats were on this part of Rainbow Lake.
I began to drift to sleep. My chest made a slight twitch. A small muscle went tight beneath my sternum.
I began to have a strange dream. I was alone. The blue sky was bleeding white like a rain shower falling on a watercolor painting. All the colors ran.
My body jerked me awake. I kept my eyes closed for fear of the sun’s glare. With the heels of my hands, I rubbed my itchy eyes. I opened them.
My first thought was…I had no thoughts. I looked around. Nothing was the same as it was before. There was no color. My world was black and white.
I felt my pulse. There was nothing.
It’s amazing that I didn’t panic…because panic was what I always felt one would feel when one realized they were dead.
I felt no panic. I just felt dead. Then I knew that without life, there is no “world as we know it.” There was no color.
So, now what? I waited. Something was supposed to happen to me now, but I didn’t know what or when it would happen. My thoughts began small: Is this the way that all the departed experience what is left of the world? There were no hues, no tints, no reds of passion and love, no white of innocence and purity, no green of life and promise, no blue of depression and loneliness, no gray of nuance and subtlety, no scarlet of lust and sin, no amber of forgotten photographs or letters written when youthful fingers pushed the pens.
There was nothing but growing blackness and fading light. Stark reality. Basic emotions. The lack of life’s spark that once I lived, loved and danced to.
I drifted and I pondered. I became convinced that I was truly dead and that my vision of the world reflected the lost palette of life’s interests. What was the purpose of color to me now? Color only evokes emotions or emotions evoke colors…I guess it works both ways. A musical chord can make you cry. A particular painting can make you pray. The sounds of certain words can bring you to your knees.
I had nearly given myself over to my inert fate when a spark of a thought began in my brain or my heart or my soul.
What about my grandson? He surely loves me and cares about me. What of my daughter and son? They surely love me and worry about me? My wife must love me…for all the mistakes I’ve made. My brother must love and care about me. What of my family and friends? They must think of me with affection. What of the lovers of years ago? Perhaps one remembers my name, thinks about me, cares about me and even still loves me…in their own way.
These thoughts drifted into my conscience. Then something happened. Like a watercolor artist working in slow motion, the sky began to turn pale blue. The lake water became a deeper blue. The forest trees were green again. The late summer wildflowers turned pink, lavender and yellow.
It was a bright sunny day again. I looked at my watch. Only a few minutes had passed.
But I knew I was alive.
And, then you’re alive, truly alive and fully alive…you see the world in a whole new spectrum of tints and hues.
It’s a circle. Life is emotion. Emotion is color…and color is life.