Cabo Pulmo is known as a primo snorkel spot, so early one morning I drove over and set out down the beach. I found a sandy spot to enter and donned my gear, putting land clothes in a brilliant red drawstring knapsack up on a dune.
The bay was murky and cool. Every so often I stuck my head out of water to check on the bag, clearly visible from several meters out. I saw a couple of humans and dogs.
Eventually a few fish swam through the gloom and coral. I considered the possibility of sharks. I poked my head up again — there’s the red bag — and saw a man near it, looking around, walking away. I swam for shore.
No hat, no shades, no sweater, no sarong.
No car key.
I sprint for the parking lot. Ha. She’s still here, gleaming silver through yellow road dust: Maori the 4Runner. Thank you god.
But the surge of adrenaline and incredulity is also here and lasts a long time. Surely the knapsack is around and I just don’t see it? I misremembered the place? Somebody picked it up and turned it in to the tourist bureau? No. I canvass both beach and townsfolk. “¿Ha se visto una bolsa roja? Have you seen a red bag?” Nothing.
A locksmith is called, but he is two hours away. I’m in my wetsuit and the temperature is rising. A dive shop lets me rinse off and gives me a bottle of water. Everyone is sympathetic. The 4Runner is finally opened, I dig out the spare key, thank everyone, and get the hell out of Dodge.
Yes, shit happens. Believe it. Your brother and father (not an heir) will make decisions about your mother’s estate without your knowledge or consent. Your brother will take the car you co-own. Your niece will hold her wedding at your inherited house without permission or even an invitation. Someone will steal your red knapsack while you try to enjoy a national park.
But they cannot steal your peace forever.
They cannot steal your capacity for joy.
They cannot steal your soul. Don’t let them.
It’s only a bag, a car, a relative, a wedding. There is so much more. Always. Don’t let them steal you.
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