It was a beautiful day. I couldn’t help but smile as I breathed in the fresh, warm air. The sky looked like a painting; a bright blue background scattered with white fluffy clouds and a bright sun. The river was calling out for me. It was the place where I always felt free to just be. So, I found myself floating on my back, looking at the clouds and trying to discern the story they were trying to tell. I saw a fluffy rabbit, a great big whale, and some angel wings.
But suddenly, without warning, my body began sinking, as if being pulled underneath by a current. I had floated in this river millions of times and never experienced this before. I looked around, expecting to see a storm looming, something to explain this strange phenomenon. But to my dismay, my surroundings looked identical. The clouds still white and fluffy, the air still fresh and warm. But as I became breathless fighting to keep my body afloat, I couldn’t deny that something was pulling me under.
I decided to swim to the shore so that I could rest on the riverbank. With each stroke, my arms felt as though they were swimming through a thick, heavy fluid instead of the fresh water of the river. With much effort, I finally made it to the riverbank and collapsed. But instead of supporting me, the land beneath gave way. I began to sink again. It was as though the rocky soil at the edge of the river had turned to quicksand. I managed to pull myself out, to run away from the river and into the forest, finding refuge underneath a tall willow tree.
My mind began racing. What is going on? It’s bad enough that I couldn’t float on my back, but for the land to give way. Has my body suddenly turned into a ton of bricks? No, that doesn’t make sense. Was there something wrong with the river and the land? Was it weaker than before? No, that doesn’t make sense either.
On the surface, things looked the same, but underneath, something was different. At the start of this day, everything felt light. But now, it was all so heavy. Earlier, my smile came with ease, but now, it felt impossible to curve my lips up to a smile.
As I sat under that willow tree, I looked to my right and saw that there were carvings in the trunk. It was then I remembered, this isn’t the first time this has happened to me. Some days started off so marvelously and then before long, I found myself sinking and eventually made my way to the willow tree. There was an amnesia that overtook me after the heaviness passed. And so, somewhere along the way, I started to leave myself messages in the tree – reminders that I had been here before, that I could get through this, and that there would be more good days ahead.