“Will you let me take my long steps in the cold sand?” — Gerald Stern
Evening breathes onto Lake George, a subtle fog wrapping the hills, the electric lights slowly sharpening the figures of the Stony Creek Band, the Lac du Saint Sacrament eases its white bulk behind the stage, and a graceful touring vessel, its warm wooden interior lit against the night, drifts toward its dock. Beautiful. On the drive home down the highway, I suddenly flashed to Syria. No one can travel there with such aplomb. Bombs, checkpoints, gunfire. There may be beauty there — moments of it in a sunset, in a family celebration, a song or prayer. But can anyone there feel this freedom of movement and easy pleasure? I recently was among a small group of people listening to a woman tell of a decision she made that had had unexpected benefits. “It was meant to be,” she proclaimed weightily. Everyone but me nodded solemnly. “That’s a load of crap,” I thought to myself as I looked away. Things are not “meant to be” — my friend’s son’s death, an acquaintance’s stage four cancer, a refugee’s terror and desperation, a casual trashing of a pristine island, the just-in-time winning streak of someone at the racetrack, the missing of a ship that then went down, an unforeseen meeting of two old friends. None of this was fucking “meant to be.” It’s a lucky life. Lucky, lucky life. Sometimes. Or not.