I floated today for the first time in months and emerged from the ocean renewed. It was a baptism of sorts.
To be held by something so big and so gentle was a profound relief. Perhaps in that moment, I returned to the womb, or perhaps it’s just that gravity, and the very grave situation that has surrounded us all for six months, was temporarily absent, and all that was asked of me was to be still. I breathed with the waves, noticing but not controlling myself being lifted and lowered by each small swell.
There were a few other bathers in the water today, the first day since the non-event of Hurricane Isaias that we’ve returned to the beach. A young boy, perhaps 12, and his mother were in the water when we arrived. I noticed him hanging off her, thinking back to the days that my daughter and I were also water pals. Then, I saw his wheelchair.
A year ago, I was just learning how to walk again after my close-call in Amsterdam ( How I Survived My Amsterdam Vacation, Part One: We Got Kicked Off the Ship.) For months, I lay in a single bed, unable to move my legs. When you’re in bed all the time, your body doesn’t work enough to give you that nice ahhhh of relaxing at the end of the day, and how I longed to feel that release.
When I taught water exercise classes, I finished each class with a relaxing meditation, to this Hawaiian tune. Kawaipunahele repeats the refrain, “inseparable, secure connection.” Yes, that’s what I felt the moment I released myself into the salty water today. And I knew that, even for a few minutes, the boy was free of his wheelchair and supported by that secure connection in the ocean’s salty vastness. His mother, too.
I’ve just finished reading Why We Swim by Bonnie Tsui. I love this book for all its takes on the connection between humans and water — it’s broken into sections on survival, well-being, community, competition, and flow. Check out this glowing review by Mary Pols in The New York Times. Tsui’s research on her subject brings all sorts of connections to the topic and I know I’ll be dipping into it frequently. Here’s today’s connection.
Yes, as everyone knows, meditation and water are wedded forever.Ishmael, Moby Dick by Herman Melville
It did me good to get out, drive along roads I used to frequent daily, and see people (at a safe distance) enjoying the paradise we live in here. The ocean breeze, the sound of waves, the salty air, and the largely empty beach returned me to my real self. The one who writes to figure out what’s going on. The one who’s very grateful to be here at all.