One summer day, he left the trail and went down to the river. He stood on the bank and watched the water ripple and shimmer in the sunlight. It was mesmerizing.
He sat down, took off one shoe and sock and put his foot in the water. At first, the cold water stung, but then it felt good, and he took off his other shoe and sock and sat with his feet in the shallow water.
The water cooled him. After a while, though, looking out at some rapids, he began to grow uneasy and got out.
The following day was steamy. On his walk, he heard laughter and splashing. Through the trees, he could see a group of young people playing on the other side of the river. He envied them. He’d never had such an experience because he couldn’t swim.
But as the sun beat down, the cool water beckoned him, and he went down to the river again. This time, as joyful cries of youth echoed across the water, he took off his shoes and socks, pulled up his pant legs and slowly waded in.
At first, the water felt invigorating. But the current was stronger and the water suddenly deeper than he had expected, and he lost his balance and fell in.
The swift current pushed him downstream. Fortunately, he was able to grab onto a partially submerged tree limb and pull himself to shore.
As he climbed the bank, soaked and shaking, he swore he would never go near the water again. I was nearly lost, he thought.
But a week or so later, he was drawn back to the river. He sat on the bank and once again slipped his bare feet into the water.
He took a deep breath. Sitting still, with the familiar Earth beneath him and the mysterious river before him, he began to know the peace of living in two worlds.