Listening for My Place

Cooper - Champlin, Minnesota
Entered on May 28, 2008

“The miracle is not to fly in the air, or to walk on the water, but to walk on the earth”

-Chinese Proverb

“It’s beautiful, all of it, isn’t it?”

The words drifted from my Grandpa through the thick, steamy July air and settled down all around us. He had a far off look in his eye that someone gets whenever they turn away from the outside world and back in onto their own thoughts, as if being told a secret.

Our little boat was meandering around the anchor we had sent down into the cold Ranier depths as we waited for the fasting fish to break their spiritual resolutions. We had both taken our shirts and socks off to try and cope with the heat, hoping the sweat on our skin would pick up the slightest hint of the absent breeze. The air was stagnant and had a sticky but fresh smell from the looming pines of a nearby island. The sun was high overhead, pulsating heat through the vacant blue sky. The rocking of the boat had lulled me into a balmy haze when my Grandpa’s words sleepily reached my ears.

He saw being in nature as more than just pastime recreation, something there to be used for our own means of entertainment. To him it was an art and a connection to something deeper. All around my grandparent’s house, located on the northern rim of Minnesota, were vast and expansive woodlands and fields to wander through. He would teach me about all the wildlife and fauna that we passed. I was stunned when he explained how everything was in its right place, how everything relied on everything else to survive, and how each blade of grass, half-buried stone, and piece of bark was a miracle all its own. He also said that people had their own place along these things. I asked him where that was and he said that he was still trying to find out.

When his words reached me on the boat, I took them in as part of the world that was all around us, the world that my Grandpa had taught me to love. It blended in with the soft lapping of waves against the hull, the hushed rustle of branches caught in the wind, and the distant whir of a boat engine heading out into the glassy waters. It was just one watery breath among the cataract that is the whispered secret of nature. When I glanced to see if he had anything more to say, he looked back at me with a simple smile and asked, “Well, my boy, isn’t time that we get going?”

My Grandpa believed that we all had a place in this world and that all we had to do was listen carefully to find out where it was. It is his belief that now lives on in me.