And, it really is. Or… was.
See, the problem with the Lake Erie stop on my tour was that, though I had planned to travel to a beautiful section of the Lake in Pennsylvania, I had to find someplace much closer. I had to find a closer spot on Lake Erie because my family has unexpectedly expanded this summer and we can’t travel with our adorable (yet very time-consuming) puppy. This lead me to Sterling State Park, outside of Monroe, Michigan – the only state park on Lake Erie in the state of Michigan – a mere 2.5 hours from my house.
So… this Lake Erie trip solidified two slowly developing lessons for me:
1) What we (the humans) have done to our earth, particularly these Great Lakes, is nothing short of reprehensible. Any idiot standing on the shores of Lake Erie at Sterling State Park SHOULD be able to see that with total clarity.
2) Most of the time, I would rather be with other humans that I love than alone – even when I’m doing something that I love. In other words, being with someone I enjoy being with makes working out (or anything) even better than just working out (or whatever).
As for the first lesson, I will let the pictures herein tell most of that story. Lake Erie looks as big and beautiful as all the others and though I couldn’t tell the exact nature of the debris and refuse that I swam through, that debris and refuse wasn’t much different feeling than the debris and refuse of a beach on Lake Michigan in Chicago or at a lot of little inland lakes. What made me sad while swimming, biking, running along the shore of Lake Erie on this beautiful Michigan August Sunday was the smokestacks. You look straight and you see this gorgeous lake. You look right and two enormous smokestacks. You look left and see another two enormous smokestacks – these from a nuclear power plant. We could even see a nuclear smokestack (I’m sure that’s not the right word) far out across the expanse of the lake – I assume on the land we could not see. I just kept thinking that 100 or 200 years ago, there were no smokestacks. It was just this beautiful – and warm, as far as Great Lakes go, since it is the southernmost lake – enormous lake. I wish I could’ve seen it then. I wish I could’ve seen any of our Great Lakes then. Luckily we have so much beautiful shoreline left, so many – SO MANY – places that we haven’t sullied to this extent. But it doesn’t make it any less heartbreaking to see where we’ve gone so wrong. At the same time: there were people vacationing at this Sterling State Park – actually camping! – like it was a beautiful vacation spot. THIS made me even more sad because just imagine what kind of unnaturally ruined place these people are coming from that being surrounded by smokestacks, invasive species and concrete feels like peace, feels like vacation. Ugh.
But, what have we (the humans) been thinking all of this time? What kind of relationship have we allowed ourselves to have with our earth that we would not do all that we can to protect it, rather than… ya, I’m going to say it… rape it the way that we have? Of course, I know this, that we have done this. I live with the same guilt and disbelief and fear that we (the humans) all do about what we have done to our natural world. But, honestly, living in the northern part of the lower peninsula of Michigan and travelling mostly north – to wilder, more beautiful (and relatively untouched) areas – has left me with the mistaken impression that there’s enough of the world that remains healthy and strong. There isn’t enough. And I’m not sure what to do with the guilt and disbelief and fear I feel about that fact at this moment. I will need to continue to work with this.
I continue to be amazed at how each stop on this journey teaches me something new or newish. Learning is a way of being, I think. Remaining open to these lessons is what is most important; most necessary. My love and need to learn is likely the main reason I chose this journey. And though, at times, I regret not completing actual official triathlons – as was my original thought – I think touring the Great Lakes in my own Learning Mermaid-y way has actually been helpful in receiving these lessons, with love.
Receive your own lessons, with love, Teamies.
& obviously, Vaya Con Dios.