How satisfying it is to leave a mark on a blank surface. To make a map of my movement – no matter how temporary. ~ Craig Thompson
Swimming is my all time favorite activity, if it is at the time, what I am doing.
I grew up on a lake and completely loved boating, water skiing, kayaking, and fishing. Essentially anything that you can do on or in the water. But of these, swimming does, probably, top the list.
Now where I live, we have a pool. I know how fortunate I am and I try to take advantage of it. More, now than in earlier years when other activities consumed my time.
The other night, following a full day’s work, I spent three hours swimming. If I could sleep in the water, I would. Hmmm. Perhaps that is why I was born three weeks late. A thought for another day!
I swim back and forth, back and forth; one end to the other. Sometimes a rhythm forms, sometimes it doesn’t. I swim with overhand strokes, breast stroke, side stroke, or doggy paddle. Even at times pretending I’m a frog! I keep moving.
Sometimes I pretend I’m a ballerina with the water as my dance partner. I’II leap and twirl, feeling giddy and free. I make splashes and swirls. At other times I get low in the water with just my head breaking the surface and I glide through it, sensing the water seducing me.
When I was growing up I would swim across the lake.
This is The Lake. This is the home where I grew.
It was about a half mile from my house to the other side. I swam from the beach to a friend’s camp. That was about a mile. Some days I would go slowly through the water, being one with the loons, beavers and moose. They didn’t seem to mind. Fish would often nibble at my feet should I stay stationary too long. I still have flashbacks to nibbling fish when I swim in the pool! Well-written memories fade hard.
There was one time the water and I were at odds, you might say. I loved swimming along the bottom of the lake. The water was cooler there and there was much to see. Rocks, fish, plant life. I could swim faster and longer. Until this particular day, it had not occurred to me the spring fed lake is deeper as you move to the center. An obvious, you say? Understand that at that the time of this lesson, I was twelve and only just discovering my freedom of being allowed to swim far from the shore.
I dove in. Immediately searching out the lake’s floor. I can still remember moving through the water. The feel of the plants. How dark it became the deeper you went. There was no feeling of separation of water and myself.
The moment came when I realized I needed to refill my lungs. I pushed up to the surface. I was about half way up when I could see the sun shining through the water. A “light at the end of the tunnel”.
But I was running out of air. My lungs starting to feel as though they would burst. I kept swimming and swimming, determined to not be defeated. I thought if I could see the sun, I must be able to make it. At seemingly the last possible moment, just as I was starting to feel a bit euphoric and willing to succumb to my circumstances, my head burst through the water! Greedily I gulped at the air. Looking toward home, I realized I had gone half way across the lake, underwater. Lessons learned.
The quote I opened with is from Craig Thompson’s book Blanket.The quote reflects my thinking tonight when I was swimming. I was trying to think what my fascination is with the water; aside from the fact that I find it a peaceful respite.
It is because when I jump, leap, kick, or glide, I leave a mark. Just for the moment, I break the surface’s tension. It is temporary. Quickly, the mark leaves notice I was present. Then it is gone, sometimes leaving ripples or shock waves, but they too soon dissipate. I will jump again or in some other way break the water’s surface, but the mark will not be the same.
I go through life this way. Perhaps you do, too. At times breaking life’s surface with such force it leaves shock waves. At times, barely leaving notice I was here at a particular moment. In either case, the moment is soon lost in the rest of life’s activities. The ripples I make I may never know to where they lead. It matters not. I will continue to swim.
Sometimes swimming through life’s muddiness.
Times when I break the surface in desperation, searching for air and that light at the end of the tunnel, as I searched that long ago day.
At other times, as though we are well-rehearsed dance partners.