Now that the weather has warmed and heated our pool, Dale and I go swimming every afternoon. It’s not just the exercise we look forward to, or the relief from the heat, or a pleasant way to wind down the day together. There’s something sensual and delicious about slipping into the cool water, gliding hands over head through folds of flowing silk, becoming weightless and transparent suspended beneath the sky.
I haven’t swum so much since we were living aboard La Gitana and sailing along the coasts of Baja and across the south Pacific. Then it was mostly snorkeling along the reefs, chasing schools of colorful fish, or diving for rock scallops.
We’d go early in the morning to forage for food and stay for hours, swimming in pairs. Dale and our son Chris would hunt for fish and lobster with spears. Our daughter Kelli and I would swim away in the opposite direction with abalone knives strapped to our ankles and net bags dangling from our waists, diving for scallops and conch.
But much of the time was spent sight-seeing, watching the flow of sea-life below us, diving closer to investigate, hovering like humming birds to take it all in. We lost track of time. Only when our goody bags became too full, or our bodies had lost so much heat we were shivering would we reluctantly agree to head back to the dinghy.
We lived off the sea as much as possible, by choice and necessity. Sometimes we’d be away from civilization for weeks at a time. We had no refrigeration and depended upon our diving for fresh food. We’d preserve in marinades or dry what we couldn’t eat immediately. But mostly we tried to catch only what we could eat that day.
Now it’s a different kind of swimming. I watch the wildlife while floating on my back–a pair of golden eagles circling and calling overhead, yellow breasted finches hiding among the oak leaves swooping down to drink from the waterfall, a red-headed woodpecker chasing them away.
But the pure pleasure that swimming brings is the same. I’m hardly alone in loving the way water looks, feel, sounds. Others have captured the allure of swimming better than I can:
When we swim we shed our higher consciousness, the complex, reasoning human organism, and remember, deep inside ourselves, the first oceanic living cell; we almost become our origins. Whether in lake, ocean, or pool, there comes that moment when the world of our ordinary preoccupations washes away and we sink into a meditative state where the instinctual, intuitive, subconscious mind can tell us what we need to know. . . . In the world of water, we become aware of our skin, of the body’s limits and definitions, while we are simultaneously wrapped in an element so familiar, so delightful, sensual that we feel we have come home.
—From Splash! Great Writing About Swimming by Laurel Blossom
Being immersed in water takes us back to a primordial place–whether it’s through memories of the womb, or the watery origins of life on earth, or the fact that our very bodies are primarily water. Water is not only essential to our well-being, but central to our very being.Whether diving for food, or doing laps in a pool, we feel the pure joy–the wildness–of water.
Do you love to swim? In what ways does water speak to you?