Almost every weekend each summer, my family and I drive up to my grandparents' cabin on the lake. Catching crayfish in the shallows and jumping off the dock were staples of my childhood. As I grew older, my hobbies at the lake changed. Now, instead of making mud pies or scooping up sunfish with my plastic net, I'm more likely to be found floating on a raft or on the dock with a book in hand. The lake has always been one of my favorite places to be. It's a relaxing and enjoyable environment, and it has taught me a number of things about life.
1. Look below the surface
Even on the murkiest mornings, when the water is the color of mud, beauty can be found within the lake. Grab a pair of goggles and dive down, down into the lily pads where the fish flit in and out. You might even find something you never expected, like a clam shell, smooth rock or even a piece of long-lost jewelry. In short, be sure to put your goggles on and look within before you judge based on appearance.
2. Enjoy the waves
Some of my favorite times in the water have been right after a big speedboat passes by the dock, leaving a trail of waves in its wake. Countless times I've bobbed up and down, enjoying the rocking motion and the adventure it adds. Life is an adventure too—don't be afraid to enjoy the ride. And when things get rough, remember to hang onto your raft for support.
3. Make ripples
Have you ever seen a perfectly smooth surface, and then stuck your finger right in the middle of it? When that happens, the ripples stretch out far beyond the tip of your finger. It's somewhat satisfying to think that one little action can have such a big impact. Don't be afraid to disturb the surface when you feel called to make a difference. The still, tranquil water is nice, but the ripples are much more interesting and more memorable overall.
4. Hold out for the "big catch"
As a kid, I loved casting with my little fishing rod, hoping to reel in a big fish. Our lake has a plentiful variety of sea life, from sun fish and bluegills to bass and pickerel. My favorite fish of all to catch was "shiner," a small, gold or silvery fish with flashy scales. The shiner is elusive; we rarely even saw it, let alone hooked it. But I always knew it was there, and I always knew I could catch it if I just tried hard enough. Sometimes I'm tempted to take the easy way out, the shortcut, the path of least resistance. Some days, I can reel in ten sunfish without batting an eye. But the goal of the shiner motivates me to wait a little longer, cast a little farther, and keep my eyes on the prize. It goes without saying that this can be applied to almost any area of life.
5. Make time to take a break (by the lake or elsewhere)
The lake is were I go at the end of the week, where I can relax and unwind. Everyone should have their own place that allows you to sit back, reflect and recharge for your busy life. In an age where the main theme is "Go, Go, Go!", the lake calls you to stop, sit down and stay awhile. We need that balance between activity and rest. It allows us to lead healthier, happier and more fulfilling lives.
Water you waiting for? Go out and enjoy your summer! If you need me, I'll be at the lake.