I stand in the same place as I have for years before.
The ripples of the lake still reach outward and lap at the dock’s posts. They tug at my legs with gentle, persistent demand as they recede. I have felt the pull of the water for as long as I can remember. I wonder how much longer I can resist their call, as I always have before. The trees still sway, bowing their heads beneath the soft strength of the wind. The wind lightens and the branches straighten to their full height before submitting once more as another gust rolls in. It seems to be moving at the same time as the waves around me, as it always has. I am still the break in this pattern, the interruption to this conversation far older and wiser than me.
Yet I have changed. My body is stronger, my mind less troubled, my heart more centered. I am grounded and sturdy. I sink my feet into the silty sand beneath me and it gives in without complaint. Somehow, that silt is more solid than I will ever be— far older, far wiser. I try to take a step forward but my feet do not hear me. They are listening to a pulling whisper deep within the sand. There is a suction far below, far stronger than me. Things are not always as they appear.
Maybe it’s better that way. If I knew everything about every person and every thing, there would be nothing left to learn, no new sights to open my eyes to each morning. If there was nothing left to see would I even bother to open my eyes? I am not what I appear. I think it’s better that way. What is a person if not a collection of secrets, of things you have yet to learn?
You do not know me. I am simply layer upon layer of secrets that you have yet to pull back. There are parts of me I do not know. Some I wish to rip away like a bandage. Some, I hope to never uncover.
The water knows me. The water has always known me. Sometimes I pity it for that. But the water is far older, far wiser, far stronger than me. It does not need my pity. It laughs at my offering of grievance like a mother who chuckles at a small child offering crushed flowers as a means of apology.
I came from the land but I will return to the water. The water knows me. The water will always know me. The water knows that I have not changed, I have simply peeled back more layers of myself. Maybe one day I will realize that. For now, I will accept change. One day, I may even accept sameness.
Until then, I will wait. Slowly dissolving in the water. One day I will sink. The trees will bow their heads as mine dips below the surface and the ripples will lap at the dock posts, slowly eating them away. Their conversation will continue, as it always has, no longer interrupted by my stubborn intrusion. And as I dissolve, I might then know myself, as the water has always known, as I become a part of the whole instead of simply one. Maybe then I can join the conversation, instead of breaking in. Maybe then I will be wise and old and strong. Maybe I always was.
Nic Kawecki is an English major attending Chaffey College. They adore writing, especially in the genre of poetry. As they continue on their educational journey, they hope to one day become a high school English teacher and share their love of writing and literature. If they’re not writing or binging TV, you can usually find them trying to adopt every stray animal they see.