It’s strange. This thing called energy. There are times when it enters you without warning, and bursts forth with all the power and resolve to lift you up and into a deep, icy river. Then there are other times. When it sits precariously near you. Watching you. Waiting for you.
It wasn’t something I could really predict. And if it were, it probably wouldn’t have happened on that day, when I was just like any other college boy foraging for a moment, a reason, to feel alive.
The door hadn’t even closed all the way when I started running. “Where are you going?” my friend yelled from behind me. But I couldn’t turn around to answer him. I just kept running. Away from the classroom where I had just completed my last final. I ran to release energy. I ran to gain energy. I ran because it just felt really good. I couldn’t stop smiling. I lifted my arms into the air and ran through the campus. I felt like a prize fighter who had taken the title from the champ. Now I was the champ! It was building up inside of me all semester. Now the energy wanted out.
So I talked my friend into driving down to the Potomac River. It was November in Washington, D.C. and the autumn days were turning colder. We got into his Ford Bronco appropriately nicknamed “Dino” with its bulging tires and gun racks. When we drove up to the side of the river I jumped down from Dino and ran to the seawall. It was a strange moment, to be overcome by pure exuberance like that, then to step off a ledge and into that dark brown river, fully clothed, not knowing the strength of its current or the temperature of its water.
There are certain moments in life that will never leave us. Moments when everything moving into and out of our conscious minds simply stops, and we find ourselves alone, with nothing else but the company of what is happening to us right then, right there.
The air in my lungs disappeared. And the muscles in my arms and legs went limp. The seawall that beckoned me just seconds earlier was now getting smaller as I drifted down the cold, dark Potomac River. It wasn’t fear or despair that had overcome me. It was just shock. My body had been reduced to a numb piece of flesh so quickly that I was just about helpless. Fortunately some of the energy that lifted me into this careless situation was still lurking somewhere, waiting. Enough, thankfully, to snap me out of the hypothermic stupor and get me back to that seawall.