Friday, December 10, 2010

Improbable Things in Life

There are things that have happened to each of us that probably shouldn't have. I have told you the story of meeting my wife on a train that I almost didn't board. Welding and art came to me in a gift when I was fifty years old. I received a printing press when I was fifteen years old, introducing me to the world of poetry. I once bought a lottery ticket, the quick pic kind, and on the same day in a different store bought another one with the very same numbers! The odds on that are about the same as winning the lottery except I didn't win the money!

If I made a list of the top ten improbable things I would have to include something of no significance that happened to me when I was eleven years old. I was away at summer camp, a beautiful place along the Oregon coast with its own lake, surrounded, guarded by Douglas Fir.
I am eleven and the councilors were all in their very young twenties. One day my councilor, I have forgotten her name, was in tears. She had gone swimming the evening before, what camp guides do to get away from their wards and lost her engagement ring "somewhere in the lake"!
This was a huge lake, maybe six acres, but the swimming area was around the dock, a floating wooden platform a hundred feet of walkway, a finger into the lake. It is a shallow coastal lake and the bottom is covered with algae, dark with vegetation for the first five feet. There are no odds to this. It is totally unbelievable, one of many twists and turns of life that could have gone either way.
I was a fat little boy until I turned seventeen and grew taller instead of rounder. I had red
swimming trunks, I remember that, and it was cold with coastal fog that morning. Too early to swim but I walked along the dock, pacing back and forth. The lake is huge, dark blue and flat.
Visibility in the water is zero, any lost items become a gift to the lake gods. I wanted that ring so bad. I remember walking back and forth and always pausing at the same spot.
I have always been a good swimmer, not so much laps back and forth in a pool, but under the water, deep and to the bottom. Just like this is what happened. I paused for the last time at the very same pausing place, took a breath, deep as I could and dove in. Straight, perfect dive without much splash, I went to the bottom and opened my eyes. Everything was black and I could feel the plants on my legs and in my face as I opened my hands, praying for the lake gods to give up their gift. First dive and I put my hand right over the ring!
There is no reason to this. No cause and effect. Totally improbable. It was all a good kind of accident. I was the happiest, proudest eleven year old in the world! I stole the ring from the Lake Gods!


  1. If this is a true account.. then Jerry, the Lake God was definetly your friend.! Thats the day you SHOULD have played the lottery! but you were 11 and the lottery wasn't around then..

  2. thanks, Barbra, yes, all true, every word of it!

  3. What a wonderfully kind and brave little boy Jerry, I wonder how many others would have done that?

  4. Great story, perhaps you were young enough to still be in tune with your intuition. Sounds like you instinctively let it be your guide to the ring. Just out of curiosity, what was the councilors reaction when you showed her the ring?

  5. Well, T.K, that is the untold part of this story.
    I wanted to give it to the beautiful lady councilor but a male councilor took it from me and gave it to her. I suspect he got the kiss of gratitude but at dinner that night she did thank me and gave me an extra helping of mashed potatoes. I remember that so well too! Funny what we remember.

  6. What a beautiful story! You must have been as sympathetic as a child as you are now. Empathy is a wonderful gift.