Don't you just love the Keweenaw? Since you are reading “The Pilgrim,” I will assume you love it, or you are one of the luckiest people in the world, and actually get to live here. If you appreciate peace, solitude and natural beauty, then you know it's magical too.
Of course it helps that the area's tree population greatly outnumbers the people (trees aren’t so insolent), but there is one element of the area that makes it so euphoric: Lake Superior.
One hike or drive along the shoreline and you can feel your mind at ease.
How does she do that (she's earned her title of “she,” no?)? That roller of ships. That polisher of stones. That mistress of the tastiest fishes. She draws people back from hundreds of miles for more of her enchantment. There's something about that lake like there's something about Mary.
It's hard to put your finger on just one thing because she gets you from all angles. I have not conducted any medical experiments on this, but I believe that while standing on the shore, your muscles relax. Your breathing becomes fuller. Your brain does not want to linger on current problems, but ponder possibilities for the future. And you probably tell yourself, or anyone around you, “I wish I could stay here forever.”
The more you pay attention to her endless beauty, the more your mind, body and spirit reach a new height.
Have you ever gazed over her waves and pretended you were in them? No boat, no life vest, no cell phone to call for help. Just you, way out in the middle of the big lake. Do you think you'd stand a chance surviving? Even on a calm day her depth and chill could swallow you whole. You must respect her for that.
So while she humbles you to your knees, she also, and here's the kicker, is able to expand your heart and mind. Inspiration strikes because nothing blocks your view of infinity.
From most of the 2,730 miles of shoreline, you don't see another piece of anything as you look out to sea. You see water, sky, clouds, maybe a freighter, but nothing else from the civilized world. Nothing you are forced to believe in. Your mind and soul can be so free that the possibilities stretch beyond what you thought you could soberly imagine here on earth.
That's how I know she's a drug. And I am a proclaimed addict.
Life can get stressful up here at the end of the earth: two feet of snow to shovel, busy tourist season to work through, (or at the opposite end, no work-to-be-found season) and just that daily life crap that we've dug ourselves into.
When life gets to be too much, I know I need my fix. And living at the tip, I am fortunate to be in walking distance of that shoreline. My shaking hands and grinding teeth tell me when it's time to see the lake. So I take that little walk.
And though I may stew every moment until I reach that shore, when I finally get there, her majesty backhands me and rubs my shoulders all at once. I envision myself flailing in her frigid waters, without a chance of survival. I am nothing compared to her. Yet she wraps me in hope and inspiration to the point where, not only am I healed, I am exalted.
Do you visit the lake on a regular basis? Have you ever? If not, I wholeheartedly recommend it. In today's fast-paced society with irrational social and economic norms, people truly need an outlet to be able to forget it all and just be.
It is not illegal to get high on life, so when you need a fix, just remember you can find the good stuff right on the shore.