Wild Swimming and Wild Words

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I never saw myself as one of ‘those people’.

‘Those people’ were a different, alien, species. They were the ones with an extra gene to bolster against the Atlantic cold, and, at birth, were born with added doses of bravery and physical stamina. No, I have never been one of ‘those people’

There is a chill in the November air now- not biting cold, but nippier. The wind has a bit of a whip in it too. I look at the sea though and still I hear an invitation: dive in.

Really?

The thought of the cold plunge sends butterflies to my nether regions, followed by nervous energy which could be labelled as ‘fear’ under certain lights and ‘madness’ under others.

I’m not one of the turbo clad wet suit slick swimming elite. I like headstands and handstands and strange yoga twists, sure, but ask me to swim out to sea, in November? That’s for ‘those people’.

I have to make my decision to swim before I leave the house, otherwise the excuses start to accompany me to the shore and prevent my passage. I put on my togs underneath my clothes. On good days I even remember to pack my knickers in my swimming bag, and my courage too.

I check the tides. The tide clock is not even a clock I had really been aware of before, but here I find myself, checking for the swell. High tide in Schull is the best. The water seems richest then, enriched with seaweed minerals and curiously dark, definitely at its most inviting.

Yesterday was calmer, sunny even. I’d seen some of ‘those people’ dive in earlier in the day braving the depths as if their life depended on it. No excuses. The kickers got packed. The togs were already on. Walking to the shore the decision was made. No backing out. No backing out.

And then: the sea. There is something about the water; all glitter and roam, a touch of sparkle and a hint of mischief. The fronds of seaweed were waving, the light dancing as it if was at the best party in town. No excuses.

I strip down to my togs. I nearly slip on the wet stones. I remember the trick: no dawdling, just straight in. Before I have time to think about it, 1-2-3. In the space of a breath I am actually one of ‘those people’ now, swimming wild and into the Atlantic, in November.

The sea will do that to you: break you and remake you all in a breath.

The fear tends to leave as the the water welcomes. The cold embraces every pour but has a touch of unconditional love in it. I have a random thought: If I can do this, become one of ‘those’, well, what else can I do?

Swim by swim, I tell myself. The first step is to become a December swimmer, then a January one. It’s not brave after all, it’s just a becoming, entering into a reinvention of what I thought was possible.

I return home. I make a coffee. I open the blank pages of my journal. I pick up my pen. I dive.

Then I wonder: where will this tide take me? Break me and remake me all in the breath of a page? I have been learning: it’s time to take on these wild words too. Finally.

What is your equivalent of wild swimming? Is it time to take a plunge?

 

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