Put your foot in front of the other, get to the edge, noone cares that you haven’t shaved your legs and don’t even think about your bikini line…noone else does (kinda sad but true). Breathe in and out, don’t slip on the steps, get out of the shallows quickly because you are not entirely sure that eels and crabs aren’t by your feet. Push off and swim.
For a while, its almost mechanical, pushing the water away with your hands and propelling your body forwards. Maybe you notice your chipped nails as they make curves under the water. Or the gulls overhead, praying they don’t shit on you.
The to do lists, the unanswered messages on your phone, the worries and the tension we all just seem to carry in our bodies-it needs to all take second place to the movement.
But rather than squash your emotions, the physical action seems to draw them out. Stretching it out to your finger tips making circles on the surface, marking it out in your memory. The feelings roll over and under you with the water, you’d sob at times but you don’t because you are already releasing that expression. (Also sobbing and swimming simultaneously is a magic beyond me)
You are just so aware of the necessity of this time.
To move your body, be in your body moving.
It sounds so simple, it actually now I read it back sounds silly. But when you arrive at a day surrounded by anxious thoughts or hopelessness it is hard to be present in your body, to not just be lost in your head. To use this activity not as a distraction from myself, but as a balm and a regaining of balance.
Swimming has helped me find this.
Have I suddenly got toned? Nope. my butt and thighs (and belly and boobs) still move as if they are all on their own seperate trampolines. It is a sight that you don’t really need to see.
Have I become Zen? I don’t think I will ever find that place, quietness is a temporary state and I don’t think its in my nature. My kids ensure this.
Have I, at the very least, become a good swimmer? No, I still swallow far too much water. My back crawl is pretty much just floating on my back with the occaional kicking which always ends in me splashing myself in the face. My front crawl just increases the splashing and so I continue to do breaststroke…badly!
But I love it.
I am not saying outdoor swimming should be your thing, but there is something about allowing physical activity to be your way of processing life.
There is something truly sacred and spiritual about inhabiting your space. That in fully expressing your human body you start to acknowledge the divine. That is why people raise hands in prayer or praise, kneel or prostrate themselves, march and stamp their feet, dance in an expression of freedom, raise their voice and fist in righteous anger.
These bodies of ours, they are maps and guides to the more than.
This short film below is a beautiful example of all of this. Enjoy.