The timeless moment of loss
Well, since we’re sort of on this lake and metaphorical level, that just reminds me of a shattering moment in my life when I had gone out onto that lake. I had come to love it; my wife introduced me to it, and it became our lake, and I loved to go out on it with this old windsurfer I bought. I couldn’t ever really learn to windsurf in any sort of way except to sort of just climb up on the board and stand on it and go. This is in Northern Minnesota. And so I finally bought a new sail for this thing ‘cause it was shredded, and it was really quite expensive for me, like a 200 dollar sail. I took it out into the lake, where I’m floating with my feet on the windsurfing board and my lifejacket on, and I’m sort of bobbing there, feeling the peace of everything and the sky above and the fathomless lake below, this 90 foot deep lake. And I brought the new sail out, and to put it on I spread it out in the water and get the mast down in line to like slide it onto the mast, and as I’m fooling around getting something untangled from this side over here, the sail starts going underneath the water. I turn around and it’s gone. This brand new sail is gone. And I see it going down, down, and I push myself down off the board and reach my toe out as far as I can, and I grab the last grommet on the sail as it’s going down, and I catch it, I snag it. And I’m underwater, and suddenly I’m thinking of every moment in life when loss occurs. When a life slips away, or a moment you make the wrong choice in your career you could have had—it’s gone. You’re not the fifth caller to get the tickets to the Beatles, you know, on the radio. Loss. And I’m having this moment where I understand the universal implications of all loss on the planet.
No, no, no, it’s not sad, it’s rather remarkable.
I’m either going to lose this sail, or I’m going to save it. There’s a moment where it’s not clear. It’s just like, timeless. It goes forever. Then gradually, I pull my toe up, and the sail stays hooked onto it, and I grab the sail, and it’s in my hand, and I bring it up and put it on the mast. But there was such a time traveling experience there.
[I have a question. Why did you take the sail out so far to put it on?]
Um, it just occurred to me that I would have some peace and quiet out there.
[It never occurred to him.]
[He was young.]
I wasn’t young.
[It was the first time he’d done this.]
I could be alone out there with my sail and no one would bother me and I would put it on.
[Sure. I’m sorry to bring up maybe an embarrassing question. A practical question. I windsurfed myself so–]
In shallow it’s all mossy and grody and everything so I thought, “Oh, I’ll just take it out a ways.”
[There’s a line in the Maltese Falcon where the detective, Spade, you know, Humphrey Bogart, Sam Spade. There’s a story within a story. Spade describes how someone lifted the lid off the universe and he then understood. He lifted the lid off the universe, and he knew. Kind of like how you were describing. There’s no finish to that sentence, he just knew. I want to say, “He knew what?”]