11 July 2019
As I walked along the shore of Lake Lucerne, amid a lively mix of tourists and locals, I came upon an older man. His walk was slow and diligent, assisted by a cane which he used with casual, learned grace. Not once while I watched him did he falter. His footsteps were calculated, stable.
Perhaps this was a familiar route for him, and I imagined his walking was part of a daily routine. Maybe he enjoyed being engaged in the vibrant life of a city whose pulse surged with each wave of tourists. Could it be that the speed of his surroundings, so different from his own, allowed him to feel more agile, more involved than he otherwise might’ve been? Was this daily routine a form of exercise, not merely for the body, but the mind as well? Did he imagine himself younger, just by being part of the crowd? (Did he even care about his age?)
There seemed to be a weighty nostalgia to his character. He paused, taking time to look out across the water. His gaze shifted upwards to the mountains whose distant forms, lightly shrouded in haze, took on the shape of waves in rough water. His head lowered, eyes now appearing to sweep across the dozens of boats available for rental, all of which read “License not req.” Did he live here? And if so, for how long? Did he remember a time when he, like so many others, traded the firm, solid ground, for a few hours on the waves of Lake Lucerne? To me, it seemed as if he were daydreaming about being out upon the water. As I watched this man, cane in hand, I thought of the difficulty he would have climbing into a boat. Was he thinking this as well?
Just then, a boat was being brought back to dock. The man took a step, as if to mark the end of his reminiscing and his return to reality. I took this opportunity to snap a quick photograph of the scene. I wanted to preserve this memory. Afterwards, my camera no longer raises, he paused yet again. His gaze lowered, seeming to look at the ground now. Or maybe he was looking at his cane. The returning vessel signaled the end of the man’s daydream, and as it floated towards the shore, whatever thoughts he had been entertaining withdrew like the tides. I thought of how the mind often finds itself happiest when striving against monotony; when dreams and memories come and go like waves upon the shore.
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