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  • Writer's pictureJustin Key

Behind the Title - Into the Mystic

Updated: Jun 6, 2020

"Into the Mystic" - by Van Morrison

A minimalist composition of pencil reeds reflecting on a calm lake in Ontario.

Peaceful is the best word to describe these mornings. The sun won't rise for another hour but its light has begun to illuminate the sleeping waters of Lake Abamasagi. The soft gray-blue sky reflects a few shades darker off the still, metallic lake. A windless dawn means silence in the trees. All that stirs on this brisk new day is a distant loon song echoing through the channel.

The first run of a motor breaks the glass-like reflection much like a footprint disturbs the freshly settled sand of a rising tide. Once the motor is killed, the call of the loon is paired with metronomic lapping against the cold aluminum hull. Tucked in a pine-lined bay, I cast my line to the edge of the pencil reeds to see if the world below the surface is awake yet. The ripples from the lure make the thin stalks in the water bounce and their long reflections bend. The eerie silence is quick to deafen the splash and the only disruption during my retrieve will be from a predator unaware it is actually the prey.

As the song "Into the Mystic" begins, a gentle bass keeps the rhythm behind the light picking of an acoustic guitar. The beat mimics the up and down rocking of a boat, idle in the water. It's reminiscent of waking up from an afternoon nap aboard an anchored vessel. The rocking lullaby that put me to sleep gradually brought me out with overwhelming gratitude. Rejuvenated, it's time to cast another line while the boat continues to bob.

There is only one body of water I return to when memories of fishing start playing in my head. Deep in the woods of Ontario is my version of heaven on Earth, a remote lake beyond the reach of cell towers and roads where the only access comes via the liquid runway of Lake Abamasagi. In this world that belongs to the moose and bears, three cabins have been built and on three separate occasions, they have been my home.

As Van Morrison begins his mellow song, it serves as a soundtrack to a montage that has been triggered. It starts with memories of my first excursion on the lake. Seven days on the water with my best friend in the world. We were just two naive teenagers lost in the ignorance of youth singing, laughing and catching fish.

"Hark now hear the sailors cry

Smell the sea and feel the sun

Let your soul and spirit fly"

Hidden in the enchanting melody is an underlying somberness that begins to disrupt the highlight reel from the first trip with feelings of loneliness associated with the third. My best friend that was with me throughout the first trip was there again for the second. A few years before we planned the third excursion he passed away.

That third trip was filled with sorrow and guilt. The trip was planned with the hope of reconnecting with him but that sanctuary just felt hollow. I spent every day searching for a piece of him. It wasn't until the final days that I realized what made Lake Abamasagi so special.

"And when that fog horn blows I will be coming home

And when the fog horn blows I want to hear it

I don't have to fear it"

During that last line, the tempo picks up. The literal interpretation of the lyrics tells the story of a sailor coming home to the one he loves. Just look a little deeper and you find a metaphor about the value of life. We are all flowing into the mystic so we need to make the most of the precious time we have rather than fear the end. By the end of the third trip, I realized my love for Lake Abamasagi went far beyond the memory of my friend. "Into the Mystic" was my attempt at capturing the tranquility I associate with Lake Abamasagi. It has always been able to put things into perspective for me and this photo serves as a reminder of what truly matters. Life is about the moments that make time standstill. We live our life like it's a race to the end but our time here is finite. Once our journey begins all we can do is enjoy the ride because as Van Morrison so perfectly concludes his song,

"Too late to stop now."


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