A Distraction

An upbeat part of my adolescence…

Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

At a summer camp at 13, after way too many attempts to bring myself above two water skis, I finally got the hang of it. That is all I remember from the Alabama, camp experience. When I was about 15 at home in Miami, FL, I followed up on that wonderful distraction.

With the small powerboat my father purchased, splitting the cost with him, I tried to ski with an experienced driver, a school friend, at the helm. I got the picture. I drove while he skied. It started one of the most joyous aspects of my adolescence.

The ideal was to ski in about 70 degrees emerging from reasonably warm water. That standard included a mirror-smooth Biscayne Bay. With the sun shining off my unscreened body (Who knew from sunscreen?), I would surge out of the water with the initial torque from a 35 horsepower Kiekhaefer, outboard engine…

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“Our fantastic civilization has fallen out of touch with many aspects of nature, and with none more completely than night.” Henry Beston, a 20th-century writer and naturalist. He saw it as a peaceful period.

The night? It is the period when daylight pain might amplify. In the middle of the night, if one awakens, things can appear more fearful than in bright sunshine.

And the darkness flashing us into sleep. What an amazing instant. We cannot perceive that moment falling headlong into the first stage of sleep.

It differs from deep anesthesia. There, under bright lights, getting pinched hard doesn’t wake us as it would with sleep. When I was a med student, a prof said something unforgettable about deep anesthesia. It is the closest thing to death in the living patient.

So much for the solitude of darkness.