How To Fear This

At some point I became afraid of lakes. Not (I hope, obviously) in a general fashion, of their existence, but specifically of entering them. Oceans too. We could blame it on a few too many years of city living, but I like to think it is something more sacred.

This isn’t fear, I tell myself, it’s reverence.

Which isn’t to say I don’t find it a little ridiculous. I give myself the same look that you do. Come on. Just get in there. This is supposed to be fun. Quit ruining the fun! Or Look at Jamie, in her bikini! She is having fun! Why can’t you be fun like Jamie?

And sometimes I close my eyes and I run into the lake and it feels wonderful and we’re all happy and splashing around and that’s great. Somebody ride the rope swing! Yea! Cannonbaaaaall!

But then, inevitably at some point, I’m standing in the water, staring into it, and I’m thinking about all these grains of sand and the crazy shit that happened to make it sand, the soft piles of decomposing mush and the things that feed on soft piles of decomposing mush, the leeches in the shadows and all the different sizes of fishes and the microbes and the snapping turtles and everything that lives here, everything that’s just trying to get by in the unseeable murk and here I am trampling and splashing all up on its grill.

If you’re not at least a little afraid of entering a lake, I think you must just not have thought about it too much.

You may also like


  1. Enh. Other animals seem to get along just fine splashin about in lakes. I say, what’s good enough for bears is good enough for me.

  2. This is also why Tony wades into rivers, catches salmon with his bare hands, and eats it right there.

  3. Waking at dawn, years ago, I left my tent-mate slumbering and decided to swim alone au naturel (think of me as young and lissome then, so this image does not disturb you now) in the most pristine, smooth, perfect lake in the Boundary Waters where we had the only campsite. It was initially magical while I was feeling primal, and then unsettling when my thinking brain engaged. So, I envy the loons and bears…but then again, they cannot write about what they do.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *