One More Swim
As the sad man donned his mask and snorkel and waded into the water, he thought:
I’m lucky to be here.
How many places are there, he wondered, where you can drive 2 minutes from your house and find such a sandy freshwater beach to swim in? Those poor bastards in Toronto drive hours in bumper-to-bumper traffic to experience this. And here he was, doing it on a weekday, after work.
Because this was the type of special place where you could do that kind of thing.
Where you could catch your fish for supper any time you felt like it.
Where there was an infinite network of back-roads leading to hidden lakes just waiting for your canoe.
Where you could pick wild berries and eat them until you got the shits.
Where the housing was cheap, where there were no traffic jams, where you didn’t have to lock any doors.
Where bears would poop in your back yard.
These were all things the man dearly loved.
It had taken him years to find this place.
But he was here, and he was grateful.
Yet he was still sad.
Because living here came with a huge price.
It meant working for The Factory.
That god-damned dysfunctional Factory.
Because that was the type of toxic place where grown men were treated like children by resentful bean-counters.
Where office Christmas parties required you to take personal time off to attend.
Where countless of millions were wasted on boondoggles, yet you could get disciplined because your timesheet was a day late.
Where you could be reprimanded, criticized and bullied for months on end, until you almost started to doubt your own worth as a human being.
And then they’d congratulate you with a successful annual performance review and a promotion.
And a few weeks later, the head games would start again, and you’d be harassed again and almost threatened with dismissal.
That was the type of place that would force you awake at night with a queasy stomach, and make you wonder how much longer you could take it.
This is why the man was sad.
Because he realized: It’s not worth it.
His lakes. His fishing. His canoe. His trees.
His bears that pooped in his back yard.
It’s not worth it.
He looked at the shimmering sunlight dancing off the pristine water. He looked at the rolling hills of unspoiled wilderness. And it was a bittersweet moment.
Because he knew he had to leave.
For the sake of his sanity, for his well-being, for his soul….he knew he had to leave.
And already, he was starting to grieve.
How many more times will I actually visit this beach? he wondered.
Who knows? Nothing in life is a given, as his Mom often said.
He put on his mask, took a deep breath, and plunged into the cool dark forgiving water.
At least for one more swim…