Our connection to each other is really strong. Sometimes we may not be fully aware of its total presence. Having just a glimpse of the silence between two souls that connect on levels beyond the words is remarkable and indescribable. However, it exists without question.
The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing, Blaise Pascal
My last swim before Lockdown 2 was a night swim. The clear skies were filled with stars and planets but the moon was shy – or did not want to blind the eyes of nocturnal swimmers. The deep and very dark water’s wait so quiet and unmoveable in its being. Water has a sense of knowing from aeons and incalculable ancient pasts and yet, at its roots, water has an un-formable quality.
“Our last swim,” falls from the lips, muted by what lay ahead in the cold temperatures just yards from the muddy wet cold banks. Bare-footed, we assemble our belongings, torches turned on, carefully placed inside our tow floats, the pink and orange lights give birth to warmth for our eyes, adding night festivities and celebrations to this united last stand.
A man who fears suffering is already suffering from what he fears, Michel de Montaigne
Suffering is a pathway to… I am not entirely sure. We ask ourselves: why? But on this occasion, that was never mentioned once. We were all fully aware what was needed: forget one’s fears, support each other, and swim in the cold dark water. Find some kind of inner comfort in knowing you are never alone in yourself or in the world.
Cold shock is real, especially in water, however you prepare for the cold-water entry is your right of passage beyond resistance. Slow controlled entry making peaceful steps with gradual submersion or straight in and YYYaaarrrr….. Your choice – no rules.
Whatever you do, remember your breath, the sound, pace, directions. Deep or shallow.
Conscious breathing improves awareness and supports relaxation. The breath is the connection between mind and body.
We swim out into the darkness, just making out shapes and silhouettes far in the distance.
No lights other than the luminosity of the stars and glow from our tow floats. This serenely wonderous tranquillity was intensified by the harsh cold water and the heavenly night skies. With every stroke and head turn for breath I came face to face with the universe. Then back to the water’s darkness and the pattern repeated over and over, like a fractal, and the endless reinvention of the more you look the more you see, the more you listen the more you hear. In this mesmerising trance state, the connection of inner worlds and the outer universe form as one, like a swimmer with water.
I swam as smoothly and silently as I could, not making any unnecessary ripples in this birth place and sacred pool of tears. One can only say, I was in a flow state, in which one is performing an activity fully immersed in the feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and excitement in the process of the activity, complete absorption in what one does, the result is a transformation in one’s sense of time.
endless wonders spring from simple rules, which are repeated without end.
With each breath, I ponder the universe, for a second and as I stare into space I know there is no limited dimensions. This for sure is a very humbling experience on the eve of a national lock-down, isolation round number two. I want to carry this moment forward into the coming months with a sense of calm and peace, without judgment, and a fully overflowing heart for the wonders of the world we live in.
In this silence the two souls who I shared this special night with will last way into the silhouettes of the long nights ahead. Like the deep connection that is shared by those who are close beyond the shackles of words and all the unspoken admirations.
Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. Lao Tzu
Turning for the swim back to shore “Yes, it’s cold enough.” Lips are a little numb now, arms feel cold, but the body is feeling warm. That’s a good sign, even though we know from overstaying our welcome in cold water the drop hits you a bit later, after you get out and start getting changed. The Drop, should be a film. The drop creeps up on you and consumes your ability to function, robbing you of your faculty to think and act. You’re left unable to function. The total reliance on one’s swim soul friends to help you through.
We placed a red flashing light high on a post to act as a beacon for the return journey homeward. Flashing in the night, offering the straight line ahead, we all gather ourselves for the home stretch. The thoughts cross one’s mind as to have I stayed in to long? Getting carried away with the starts and the endless universe above. The tranquillity of the present moment that is so fragile it can shatter at any moment. Calm the breath clear the mind a swim softly.
The beacon flashes above me, so close, so very, very close, making the most of my last few moments and swimming so smoothly before the transition to standing in the even colder night air. The water is cold but not compared to the air temp. Check all swimmers are well, and in sight. Yes…. “Ready?” All Out now.
Out in the darkness, fumbling for warm clothes – not my strong point – fumble, fumble, faff. Eventually, dressed, way after everyone else (I am completely convinced they do not dry themselves properly – or is that an excuse for my utter incompetence. Maybe?).
We share and sip hot coffee whilst wrapped up so bound by coats, hats like inflated airships – Zeppelins. Hands shaking wildly, shivering fighting off the cold as our core temperature drops, redeploying the blood to the extremities. Shrieks of laughter rampage into the night air, every breath bellows plumes of mist from our lungs.
To trust in your friends and swim in the darkness of cold winter waters, is a true privilege and testament of the individuations process one faces when you learn to trust yourself and be trusted by others. To have good friends, first you must become a good friend.
For the long days and nights ahead with uncertain futures and no clear end in sight, I gather my warmest thoughts for all the swimmers and their friends and families.
Keep safe, keep warm, keep the love.