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  • Writer's pictureSteve Szakal

Buddha's Lake

I think I was about 10 years old. It was summer and when you are ten the summer is the greatest time of your life. You get the freedom to roam out into the neighborhood and explore parts of your town for the first time. Scranton was a magical place to a kid. You have the coal dumps where you can catch snakes, the roads are hilly where you feel like you are flying when you hit that downhill just right. Just being able to stop in a corner store to get a gatorade and a tastycake is pretty fucking cool.

During the summer you go though phases. For a few weeks its nothing but basketball, you play from the early morning till late at night. I can still smell the blacktop. Then it's baseball for a few weeks. This particular week it was our bikes. We rode our bikes to every corner of the city. Pushing the limits of where our parents would let us go.

Scranton has sections of woods that when you are in them, feel like another planet. You exist in another world, there are streams you can fish in, and trails you can ride your bikes in. On a random day we were exploring and we came upon a lake. We never saw this lake before. When you are 10 everything seems new and if it's not new your imagination makes it new. Looking at this lake our minds came to the conclusion that no one else in the whole world knew about it. At that moment it was ours.

Our lake needed help. It had old tires. trash, and random junk all in and around it. We got to work. Every day we rode our bikes to our secret lake to clean it. We hauled all the junk out and it was looking pretty cool. This place was ours. We planned on buying fish to stock it and hopefully one day be able to fish in it. We were so proud of what we did. We fixed something on our own.

The next day we woke up early and rode with a fury to our lake to figure our where we would get some fish to stock it.

When we got to the end of the path where the lake was this overwhelming confusion hit us. The lake was gone. Before us was just dried up mud. It never was a lake. It was just a big puddle. Probably sewer run off.

We didn't know it at the time but it my first buddhist moment. We put so much work into cleaning up what we thought was a lake and in the end there was nothing to show of what we did. The water was gone. It was no more. Luckily as children you are sad for about three minutes and we just turned our bikes around and went to the courts to shoot hoops. It was only a few years ago this memory popped in my head. My friends probably have no recollection of it, but I remember.

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