I was in a deep trance and nearing Sticky Bay.
All I could hear was the steady rhythm created by the paddle, unaware that my arms were even moving.
That is when it came to me.
"Huh," I said. "You are right."
The annoying chronic complainers had been silenced.
All the hypochondriacs were gone.
I could not remember the last time I heard anybody say, "I have a scratchy throat." Or, "I think I'm coming down with something."
Nor could I recall the last time I heard myself say, "Sven, feel my forehead. Do I have a fever?"
Surely there are a handful of hard core sickos out there still practicing their art.
But, they don't have their spot next to the water cooler now.
So, where did they go?
Are they sitting in their cars, waiting in long lines to direct their moans and groans to unfamiliar faces under plastic shields, bodies inside hazmat suits and hands holding swab sticks?
Or did they just stop their complaining?
Remember that old saying?
"Here's a dime. Call someone who cares."
Then it was, "Here's a quarter."
Well, they took away all the phone booths.
And now the water coolers are gone too.
Since March of 2020, I will admit that if I wake up with a little tickle in my throat, I will tell you that my tiny cough is due to pollen.
If I am a tad tired, I was obviously up too late.
And if my stomach is queasy, I ate something to upset it.
These minor symptoms disappear as fast as they show up.
Especially if they are not worth mentioning.
And if you don't talk about what ails you.
It don't ail you.
Unless of course, you are truly ill.
My circle of friends have not complained of their aches and pains this summer.
There was that broken foot, and that root canal and the old hip replacement.
But even then.
It's like the old, One Adam Twelve, "Just state the facts, ma'am."
You see, in today's world one is either sick as a mother or one is not sick.
Sitting on top of the water that afternoon, I realized that this weird phenomenon is part of the balance of nature.
Kind of like kayaking.
The paddle goes into the lake on the right and then on the left, back to the right and on to the left.
This motion moves the water.
The displacement of the water moves the kayak.
It is nothing more than a mathematical equation.
Because that is what life is.
And we as a people have obviously been displaced.
We are now living in a parallel universe.
Somebody else is back in our old stomping grounds plugging telephones with their pocket change and standing next to the water cooler complaining about their pink eye to anyone who cares.
But it seems that in this new world we have been sent to, there is no room for your everyday runny nose whiners.
You better be sick as hell if you are going to bitch on this planet.
It is a small tradeoff.
But a silver lining nonetheless.