A couple of weeks ago, when I was talking to the psychiatrist at Lahey, I mentioned that my ability to imagine situations sometimes felt like an awesome gift and a dreadful curse. A curse, because it means that I tend to over think things in a very real and vivid way and because I have the tendency to relive embarrassing or upsetting moments over and over again in my mind. A gift, because I can not only imagine beautiful and interesting things/places/ideas, but I can often recall images that I’ve seen and experienced before in full technicolor/smell-o-vision/Dolby surround sound.
These images might not be as accurate as a photograph, but they’re quite vivid. This comes in handy when I am trying to relax: I can think of a moment when I was calm or happy, recall the image and then lock onto it. These days, I cast my memory back to this past summer. It was a hot day and Derek and I were on Bear Island visiting his grandfather on Lake Winnipesaukee. Our friend Rebecca and her family were visiting their friends on a neighboring island. Weekends on the lake are pretty packed with boat traffic, and we didn’t want to leave Derek’s parents or Grandfather without the boat, so we took the canoe. Plus, taking the canoe seemed like it would be fun. It was. With me in front and Derek in the back, we paddled across the busy lake to reach the other island. In my mind I see the light reflecting off the lake’s surface; the sun shining brightly, high above us; the island’s shore in the distance, and I can hear the sound of Derek’s voice telling me when to paddle and on which side I should be paddling. I asked him repeatedly if we were there yet, half-joking, half-serious. Big boats and their intimidating wakes threatened to swamp us, but we kept on gliding that yellow fiberglass vessel through the waves, adjusting our course when necessary and pointing the canoe in the direction of the island. I’d never been where we were going, but Derek was confident about the path we should take, and his voice, calm and reassuring, led us both to our destination.
After swimming and hanging out, we got back in our canoe and made our way back to Bear, across the lake. The trip seemed to be shorter, and this time, I didn’t ask if we were there yet. We paddled together, in unison, and cheered each other on as the canoe lunged forward with each stroke. We got back to the island together, as a team. Working together towards a shared goal.
I’ve never been where we’re about to go, but I’m sure of the path we’ve chosen, and I know that we’ll get there together. Each of us in command of our own paddle, taking the waves as they come. I see the lake in my mind, I can feel the warm sun on my skin, the gentle rocking of the canoe, and I can hear Derek’s voice echoing in my head; always calm, always reassuring.