Nine summers ago I was invited to spend some time in the picturesque town of Gananoque in Canada. We rented a log cabin with access to a large lake where we would wake up to the song of birds and sleep to the rhythm of crickets.
Every morning, after coffee and cigarettes, we would walk down to the lake and get into a small boat to paddle our way around the lake. There were so many nooks to discover.
From the small pier outside the cabin you could see the other side of the bank. A majestic forest stood there, beyond the mirror-smooth lake.
One day, in a moment of nature-loving solitude, I decided to take the boat out by myself and spend some time alone in the serenity of the middle of the lake.
As soon as I got there, in the middle of the lake, and I was equidistant from all its banks, I experienced a new kind of quiet as the water absorbed whatever sound escaped from the thick shrubs.
It was early afternoon and nobody was at the river banks. I was alone.
Oh shit, I was alone.
Suddenly I remembered a scene from a movie I saw as a kid, and imagined a huge dark shadow passing under the boat. Then I imagined that some alien tentacles would come out of the water and pull me down into a watery grave. I imagined monsters coming out of the water and into the boat, then back into the water leaving behind some of my bones floating in a pool of my blood.
I quickly turned the boat around and rowed as fast as I could back to the pier. I ran up to the cabin and joined my friends. They wondered why I was back so soon, and I said it was too hot to be on the lake.
That day I learned my lesson:
No matter what beauty surrounds you, if the darkness is inside you, it will always wait for you to be alone.