Emily Jaycox editorial

OPINION: Finding your centre in troubled times

My ‘bucket list’ is short, and only half imagined with as-of-yet un-penned thoughts. It may seem modest or unambitious to some.

One item on the list: I think I would like to see the ocean one day, and walk along the beach, collecting sea glass and pearlescent shells, and just listen to the waves lap the shore.

I’ve never been to a coast. The opportunity just hasn’t come up yet. People talk about how when they look into the expanse of seemingly never-ending water, and its power and majesty, that they feel small; that it makes them contemplate their place in the universe.

I imagine that’s probably true.

I haven’t seen the ocean, but earlier this fall I found my own special place right here in Alberta, that kind of felt like my own paradise, of sorts. It seemed to me an oasis of serenity in an otherwise turbulent world.

You can see the other side of the lake, but not its length with the human eye — we’d driven beside it for nearly an hour without coming to its headwaters.

The lake, which appears to slice right through the mountains, carving its own valley in its wake, is too fierce and unpredictable for boats to navigate, we were told.

You won’t see any banks, beaches or moorings along its course; the surging current, as clear and sharp-looking as turquoise Amazonite, seems to swallow up the ground, rising into the treeline of evergreens clinging to mountainsides.

We managed to find one narrow trail angling down to a small rocky beach, however, that seemed to be a secret path to a nearly sacred place.

The patch of refuge we found was indeed a spot usually underwater, evident by the smooth stones — now sun-bleached — worn over untold time by the rushing, pure water, and an ambling, overhanging tree with its roots exposed, likely eroding during spring floodwaters.

There’s a feeling of time passing, unnoticed, in this place as you’re encompassed by raw nature all around, seemingly as ancient as the earth itself, in that almost otherworldly sphere.

It was easy to imagine, sitting on those weathered stones, gazing across the breadth of the water, that we were on undiscovered, virgin land.

Despite the coursing water, it was quiet. The thick, pervasive smoke from forest fires overcasting the sky and permeating the air nearly erased mountains from sight completely; you could almost forget those resting giants were even there, adding to the surreal feeling of being enclosed in a hidden sanctuary.

While feeling transported to a different place and time, another small voice simultaneously whispers from somewhere deep inside “This is where you belong. This is home. Here is peace, and you can rest.”

A fallen tree stripped of its bark long ago, drifting close to shore in the calm, crystalline water, served as a natural safety marker, like a barrier. Knowing the embankment might drop off abruptly, we kept to the still water close to shore, in a kind of parley with the raging, choppy waters beyond.

I caught my first fish there. Luck hadn’t ever been with me before. I guess that’s one I can cross off my bucket list.

When threatening storm clouds and the chilly, drizzling autumn rain could be ignored no longer, we prepared to leave with heavy reluctance.

So why am I telling you all of this? What’s the point? True, there are many important, concerning and relevant things I could write about that deserve attention.

However, as important as being aware and alert of the crashing waves is, everyone needs a way, either a tangible action, imagined escape, or a pleasant memory, that helps them re-centre themselves and decompress, so they are better able to face the reality awaiting them outside the oasis.

I know the lake is a place I will return to in my mind, when I need some grace; when I need to find peace.