A Foreign Spirit This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

June 8, 2017

Impatiently, I strutted down the dirt path that drew me closer to the sound of water; to the sound of the seemingly endless waterscape that people call Lake Michigan. Somehow, my mother had managed to force me away from the homework that had been captivating my mind since the moment I stepped out of my house and into the car. When would I do it? Will I have the time? It’s the beginning of the school year, I can’t afford to miss any assignments yet. The overwhelming thoughts constantly paraded in my mind, no matter my location, including when I was on ‘vacation’. But, as my mom often says, I overdo my school effort.
Much to her relief, after persuading me, rather than being focused on my unfinished homework, my mind was infested with thoughts of our final destination. Whether my attention was on my homework or relaxing on my short vacation, I did not intend to waste my precious time. That includes waiting for my family that seemed to struggle to leave the car without hoarding everything in it. My mom is always worried about “being prepared for anything and everything.” Instead of waiting for them, I made my way towards our destination, through the trees that shrouded us with darkness.
As I walked, I studied the trail that seemed to be leading us to the shoreline. Though there was a path, it wasn’t clear in the slightest; there were branches, rocks and varying types of shrubbery that invaded the once thick clearing. Noticing my absence, my family called out to me to wait for them. I slowed my pace, but continued to walk in direction of the water crashing up against the shores. The sound was alluring; it was as if I was in a trance and I was physically being drawn towards it. To say I was excited would be an understatement. My entire body was filled with anticipation to view the water and shoreline. Even hearing the name adrenalized me. The Fossil Ledges.
Despite the thick layer of trees and plants that separated us, I heard my mother sigh melodramatically. Defeatedly, she informed me that I could go ahead and find the entrance that lead to the water, “Don’t stray too far, Tessa. I don’t want you getting lost,” she paused for a moment, but obviously had something else to say. Intently listening, a scowl slipped onto my face as I heard her giggle in a somewhat teasing way. “Again.”
With pride of my effective persistence yet embarrassed of my mother’s true words, I jogged up to the layer of trees that enclosed the water from my view. Despite my embarrassment, a strong longing to become lost in the endless forest spread through my body. The feeling was unlike any other, contrasting significantly from my typically overly-organized personality, one that required that I was aware of my location at every moment of the day, to avoid becoming disorganized. Nonetheless, I allowed myself to indulge in on the unusual feeling, enjoying every moment of it.
A break in the trees provided me with a small peek of the waterscape that lie ahead of me, but still I found no clear path that would lead me to my destination. It felt just out of my reach, causing the feeling of yearning to see the Fossil Ledges to increase within me. I pushed through the branches that prevented me from advancing further, unfortunately receiving a few scratches from the surrounding trees. After much frustration, I made to the shoreline I had been anticipating so much.
Immediately, the scenery overwhelmed with its unique beauty. A light breeze rolled off the water allowing a renewing feeling to spread throughout my body. The sound of the waves crashing up against the rocky shoreline soothed the stresses that typically plagued my mind. The rocks that lay beneath my feet astonished me with its unusual designs. The deep blue tint of the water complimented by the gray clouds took my breath away. The beauty that was withheld in each of the unique and unfamiliar terrain surprised me, giving me a refreshing view of the world.
No longer was I conscious of my stinging legs and arms, as they were wiped from my mind. My new environment distracted me even from the homework that lay unfinished. Though the air was chilly and there was no sun to preserve the warmth within my body, I felt comfortable. There was no need to wear a sweater, but the chill that was prominent in the air left my fingers tingling with excitement nevertheless. The waterscape that lie in front of me caused me to forget about insignificant things such as the aforementioned sensations.
“This is too hard!” My younger brother interrupted as I admired my foreign surroundings. I listened to my family struggle to make their way through the thin line of trees that prevented them from reaching me at the edge of the water. Though I was laughing at the mere sounds of their struggling, and I’m sure it would have been funnier to watch them, I refused to tear my eyes from the seemingly fleeting beauty that cocooned me. One by one, my family members joined me, standing there with as much admiration for the surrounding environment as I withheld. Almost as soon as my younger brother allowed his brain process the area, he began to take his shoes off, and dip his toes into the water that fiercely forced itself upon that rocks that separated us.
But as the water mercilessly hit his toes, he retreated his feet back, scowling and complaining about the the cold water. Although it did irritate me that he was choosing not to appreciate the beauty around us, I was unable to contain the laughter that threatened to burst from my lips because of his suffering. I allowed a few giggles to slip, just enough to calm me down. However, I held back on laughing, worried that I may upset him, though I doubt anyone could be anything except content in such a wonderful place.
“Stop being such a baby,” I scolded. “I bet the water isn’t even that cold.” In response to my teasing tone, he stuck out his tongue playfully. I mirrored him, returning his childish action. My mother sent me a confused expression, puzzled as to why I was acting as I was. Typically, in such a situation, I would be complaining about how I could be doing more important things. Stress would prevent me from fully indulging on the adrenalizing situation. But I was enjoying myself, and living in the moment. Rather than being irritated by my family for forcing me away from my school and homework, I was savoring the time being spent with them.
Repeating my younger brother’s actions, I removed my shoe, and dipped my feet in the water. The bitterness of its touch surprised me, but I appreciated it nonetheless. It caused a feeling of adrenaline to rush through my veins, something that I had not experienced in a while. The deep blue water gave me a chilling feeling as I stared at it. It seemed to hold as much depth as a black hole; the reflection of the clouds made it appear to have the ability to swallow the universe itself. As I peered into the dark abyss of water, the black hole swallowed the remaining drops of pessimism that lingered in my mind. The only thoughts that floated in my now peaceful mind was involving the previously mentioned surroundings. The soft breeze that brushed against my prickling skin seemed to grasp my stresses and clutch them until it drifted far away from me and my newly found peace.
For the first time in a long time, I was appreciating my surroundings, enjoying the environment I had been given. For the first time in a long time, I was filled with the urge to do more in my life; whether it’d be to preserve more places like this, to aid others in feeling as I was, or to simply become a better and nicer person. The realization that relaxation and optimism is a necessity hit me. In that moment, I realized that everything was not as they seem. There are many negatives in life, but there are still positives that balance them out. For the first time in a long time, I had the urge to live rather than allow myself to waste away in my sorrows.

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