I stopped paddling for a while, focusing on the shivers I felt when the sun touched my skin and on the sounds all around me: the chipmunks fighting, the reeling from the two fishermen’s pole in their belly boats at the other end of the lake. A muskrat dove in the water when he heard me approach. The water was so clear I could see all the way to the bottom of the lake… Dead trees looked like sunken boats.
I looked at the water dripping from the paddle, making a perfect line of decreasing little circles and I thought: this is it. This is as good at it gets. The girls are at that perfect age where they are independent enough to do their things all day sometimes and still excited to wash laundry in a canoe barrel and come on a hike with us… At 37, my body doesn’t hurt anywhere, I feel strong… but soon, soon, the balance will tip… and the body will starts to show its age, and the girls will become teenagers, and this life might not be what they want…
Stop. Deep breath. We never know what the future might hold.
I could see the bus from the lake and the kids playing in the field beside it on the teeter totter they had made. And I took a mental note of all of this, because right there, in that moment, it felt oh so perfect. My idea of an accomplished life. My version of success.