Pond of Perfection by Robin Nuzum
Strolling along the grassy bank of the small pond on her property, Sophie was deep in thought. Her head was pounding, and her heart throbbed in misery. The circumstances that made her feel this pain were absurd. Sophie had been feeding some ducks in the pond and as they swam away, she caught her reflection in the calm water. Who is that woman looking at me? She resembles me but she looks old and wrinkled.
Instantly resting down in the grass, laying her head back, she glared up into the cloudless blue sky. Why am I feeling so down? I’ve lived a beautiful life. Reflecting on the years that had passed, Sophie reminisced her children’s milestones, chuckled at their antics and felt their love surrounding her with warmth. Her eyes closed with a small tear running down the side of her face telling the universe that she was hurting.
Slowing sitting up, she thought of the many wonderful memories she had with her husband of 40 years. He had been gone now for several years but she had gotten through that. Her life had been filled with family, friends and so many projects she would never finish .
Soon she rolled over on her knees and pushed herself up into a standing position. Getting up was a lot harder than it had been at thirty. Stretching her arms to the sky, she screamed, “Why?” I don’t understand this aging thing. Inside I feel the same but outside I grieve for how I used to look and how life used to be. It’s not fair! A bullfrog jumped and croaked loudly as if scolding her for screaming. “I am not grumpy!” Sophie shouted in reply. Sophie began laughing at herself uncontrollably to keep from crying.
Walking along the worn path toward her house, Sophie reluctantly elected to make the best of the day and change her attitude. She eventually overcame her pity-party, taking a deep breath, blowing it out slowly she said out loud, “Positive thoughts for a positive day”.
Sophie fixed herself a salad with salmon and sat outside on her enclosed back porch with her thoughts on the duck swimming alone in the pond. Not wanting to be a lonely duck, she called her friend, Lucy, to see if they could meet for a little shopping. Having a social life was important for the spirit.
The sun shone brightly through the slight gap in the curtains as Sophie opened her eyes the next morning. She hastily arose, turned her coffee pot on, and threw on a soft, lightweight sweater and jeans. She grabbed her steaming hot coffee and proceeded down the path toward the pond. She had carried some cracked corn with her to feed the ducks. It was her favorite thing to do each day. This morning when her reflection leered at her, she halfheartedly sneered back. She tried hard not to relent to the negativity today. Pond- Oh no you don’t- not today! I’m ok- yes, I am.
Sophie took her time getting back to her cottage style house, picking some wildflowers as she strolled along. She put them in a small, frosted vase and sat them on her kitchen table. Just as she was fixing breakfast, Hannah, her daughter, called and wanted her to watch her granddaughter, Olivia, for the day. Sophie was thrilled to have her sweet little granddaughter; pride welled up in her heart when she thought of the small reproduction of her daughter.
Grandchildren are a treasure trove of loving and giving a sense of purpose. Sophie loved to teach Olivia things like making noodles, a tradition that would be passed on. Being a grandparent was so much fun since there was limited responsibility; you could spoil them and send them home. Sophie gleamed. What a delightful, fun filled day we are having. Age does have its advantages Just when she was thinking so positive about her time with her granddaughter, the table turned. “Nana, why do you have so many wrinkles and what is that on your hand?” Olivia bluntly asked seeing a small age spot. Kids are so brutally honest. Sophie had started to develop a thick skin hearing comments like that, but it still stung. Instinctively, she laughed and quickly said “oh no, are you kidding, Nana has wrinkles? Run, get the iron” making her granddaughter giggle with delight. As Olivia was leaving, she wrapped her arms around Sophie’s neck, “I love you, Nana”.
Wednesday already? Where does the time go? Sophie was following her usual routine wandering along the path to the pond when she saw a flock of geese landing in the pond. She turned around and walked back to the house to retrieve more cracked corn. Tossing a few handfuls to the geese and then to the ducks, it took a little longer than normal to finish. Feeling the heat of the sun on her face, she remembered that she forgot her sunscreen. More wrinkles? she thought to herself frowning slightly. The path circled around the shallow pond, and she chose to walk it today avoiding looking directly into the still water. She wasn’t sure why she felt the need to escape the image but for today, she did. It was probably hearing the innocent question her granddaughter had posed yesterday. Sophie shivered slightly thinking about aging.
Her favorite place to sit was on the far side of the pond and she sat on the tree stump surrounded by daisies. Her mind floated back to the many wonderful times she had spent around this pond. It had taught her to be grateful for every season. Why was it taunting me now?
“I better get moving” she noted out loud to herself. Reaching over to pluck a few daisies, she felt a dull pain run across her shoulders. She moaned a little as she stood up slowly and massaged her shoulders for a few seconds before continuing. “Pond, I suppose you saw that and can provide me with an even older reflection of myself!” she huffed irritated under her breath as if the pond could hear her. A fish jumped as if to acknowledge the pond had heard.
The sound of the buzzing bees, the warm breeze and the serenity of the surroundings made her forget her earlier notions as she gradually made her way back to her humble abode.. Sophie took a long hot bath and sat for the rest of the afternoon reading a novel. “Life is good and I’m here for another day to enjoy it”, she purposely stated out-loud for positive reinforcement.
Thursday morning it was drizzling rain, so Sophie waited until the afternoon to go to the pond to feed the ducks. As she shut the screen door,, she noticed a flock of ducks flying away from the pond direction. “I hope those aren’t my ducks” she frantically declared. Stepping briskly down the path, she kept looking for the ducks. She didn’t see them anywhere and the disappointment showed on her face. It’s amazing how much joy a simple act in your day can bring. I’m tired of losing people I love-everything is leaving. Sophie made a conscious effort not to look directly into the pond but across it searching for the feathered friends. Not seeing them, she sluggishly strode back down the weather-beaten path to her retreat.
She picked up a magazine that she had laid on the table noticing the picture on the front looked surprisingly like her own pond. It drew her in to flip open a page and the first words she saw were ‘Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.’ She unfurrowed her brow and relaxed her jaw as she considered those words. “Life is too short to sweat the small stuff” she affirmed, relieved that she wasn’t staying in her funk.
Sophie spent the rest of the day exercising, calling friends, researching ways to stay positive and practicing self-care. “I choose to be happy each day; I expect good things in life; and I plan to spread joy to others” professed Sophie content with her optimism. Sophie thought how each wrinkle represented the amazing journey she had been on. Her mind was sharp, her blessings were many, she was true to herself, and she had loved and been loved.
The smell of her freshly brewed coffee on Friday morning seemed to take on a new meaning. She looked forward to the solitude of her morning. Quietly reflecting on the day before, she smiled. Taking her sweet time, she walked down the familiar path looking at each flower with a new appreciation. When she reached the pond, delight filled her face seeing her ducks were back. They immediately swam her way waiting on their old friend to feed them. It was an honor to be their “old” friend as she had a new outlook on what old meant. The pond had moved her through many phases of acceptance. As she stared into the rippled pond, her reflection was aged to perfection.
Pond of Perfection