Byron’s Lazy Afternoon.

Seized by a need to do something profound and foolish I made the weighty boast of swimming Lake Bemidji. I've never really been afraid of drowning, owing to a fundamental understanding I feel I have with water. I can also breath water in my dreams… which is as irrelevant as it is cool. These sorts of boasts take control of my destiny when I've gotten enough whiskey in my blood to make me courageous. Luckily this self knowledge also brings with it the self preservation to realize that alcohol does not bring with it buoyancy.

In any case I still rallied a crew to appraise the lake Saturday. We stood at Diamond Point and gazed at that far shore. A mile plus of open water teeming with recreational water sports and duck feces. A mile does not look far to me. There again I had the sense that I could easily swim from Alcatraz when I saw it last month, so either I possess a superhuman will that defies the laws of physics, or, more likely, I am wildly incompetent as to my own ability. It's good to have people who care enough about you to stop you from drowning on a sunny Saturday.

Besides wanting to live to see Sunday there was a mild hangover and a beautiful afternoon that changed a task of minor-Byronic proportions into an afternoon of power boating and American beer. I tanned a little. What's the point of swimming the lake if the press flashes only reflect off of my porcelain exterior? There was also a slight wind that produced a wake that most of the crew maintained would surely kill me. I was incredulous, but that is my character.

It is the nature of all people that breathe to do great things. This desire is tamped down by a variety of earthy interference. Be it a regular job, poverty, low self esteem, a family to support, friends who talk you out of it, the status quo, or simply fear of failure we, as a people, maintain relatively even keeled lives. Some mornings you wake up and want to scale a mountain. Unless you are lucky enough to live in the Rockies such a desire cannot be met without severe travel. Still, I believe that in the heart of every human dwells the kernel of greatness desperate to kill the mundane and eat it's liver.

It is the small but deadly adventures I should be right to fear. The unpublicized injury resulting in debilitation. "Local Hero Falls From Grain Elevator; Paralysis Inevitable". I would hate to relegate my existence to colostomy bags and sip/suck power chairs if the footage of my terrible folly is not made viral on the interweb. What sort of success is losing several teeth and the ability to see the color red if the only witness is a few well intentioned bystanders? None at all I say. In addition there is always that creeping possibility of testing my creators patience past his influence with physics. The line between death defying and deadly is a slim one indeed.

I guess I should thank my lucky stars that celebrity is the elusive bitch she is. Ever escaping my clumsy grappling for fairer lovers. Brad Pitt's bowel movements and Ashley Judd's latest hair style. No doubt my fan base would just begin assembling when it would all come to a tragic end. My final minutes broadcast on CNN, brandishing a rusty cutlass at Justin Timberlake when his body guards cut me down with small arms fire. Just some freakish flash in the pan. Just another lunatic on the ticker.

The idea of being a big fish in a small pond has always been one I loath. Fish and ponds. Mostly it is the illusion of the pond. The idea that one's world is contained and bound by some unseen but static shore. Bordered on all sides we flounder and spawn, always looking for the next body of water. Desperate for some cosmic DNR officer to place us in a larger aquatic home or, barring the intervention of well intentioned naturalists, that we find an eddy. An inlet to the paradise we are destined for.

I am not a fish in a pond. I am the osprey.

Lake Bemidji will be swam. Someday soon I will assault it's waters and we will see who is right and who is drowned. I do not believe that I will perish beneath it's green waves. It has been my companion for far too long.


Duke said…
I long to swim the width of Chemo myself, about a mile. I’ve done so with the assistance of a lifejacket on more than one occasion, risking death by rampant teen-aimed jet ski. Of course I was 12 at the time. I think I’m overdue for the big boy swim. Did you ever get around to swimming your lake?

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