The crashing Lake Michigan waves muffled the constant hum of traffic along Lake Shore Drive. I took small pleasures in tiny parks with their few trees and benches and waddling pigeons, but only the beach provided an intimate connection with nature. It was cloudy and cool with a brisk wind as I walked along the beach. Some of the seagulls hovered above the water, stilled by the wind, though most hunkered down in the sand. They flew up quickly, however, or waddled away, if I walked nearby. The few geese I encountered almost refused to move, their lives in great danger as far as they knew. Perhaps they were genetically lazy, like me, doomed to wander the earth despairing about the meaning of it all, without any answers.
So at least I wasn’t alone, I was one with the animals. Just then the wind settled down and the sun came out, and as I had been anticipating for most of my life, Mother Nature finally showed up to challenge my thoughts. Hard to believe, I know.
Oddly enough she appeared as the actress Lucy Liu, my all time favorite fantasy, dressed in white and shiningly beautiful.
“So,” she said, “you’re finally realizing your spiritual side.”
“How do you figure?” I asked.
“That you are one with everything,” she said. “Isn’t that what practicing meditation has taught you?”
“I have felt that, it’s true, but I was acknowledging my laziness more than any spiritual epiphany.”
“It’s a start,” she said, sipping from a cup of herbal tea.
“Well, I’m not sure I would ever want to go down that spiritual road.”
Her mood changed like the seasons, bringing back the harsh wind and gray day, and she fired back. “Why the hell not?”
“It’s kind of a slippery slope.”
“How so?” she asked incredulously.
“Well, what if I became extremely enlightened, Christ-like or on par with the Buddha? Life as I know it would cease to exist. I’d be unbearable to be around, always smiling and offering feel-good platitudes. I’d lose all hope of returning to a normal social life; I wouldn’t be able to have any fun, no one-night stands or heavy drinking – not that I can or want to do those things anymore, but I like knowing that I could if I wanted to, if my body would allow it. I mean, imagine the active sex life Cat Stevens must have had, thanks to all the beautiful music he made, or look at some of the more extreme spiritual fanatics. You go too far down that road and you end up with a dorky smile plastered on your face while everyone around you rolls their eyes and runs away.”
“Somehow,” she said, “I don’t think you have anything to worry about.”
And as quickly as the memory of a dream fades, she was gone. I continued into the Sisyphean wind, along the endless beach.