It is Friday. How was your week? Mine has been an exercise in anxiety management. Tomorrow morning I’m voluntarily going for an open water swim (probably a dip). It is cold enough right now that standing around in just shorts would be considered silly. Walking into a lake would be an absurd idea. Yet here I am. I’m not doing this for charity. I’m doing this for me. There’s a local group who meet up and either swim in the marine lake or the River Mersey. I’m on their WhatsApp group and every morning I get a message from some of them who have already been for a dip in the Mersey by the time I’m getting up. It’s impressive.
About 4 years ago a life guard at the pool suggested I join the advanced class designed for triathletes. Me? Apparently I self taught my er self too well. The teachers at school couldn’t get me to swim. They didn’t understand I autism and I didn’t know I was autistic. A hard to work around. 30 years later and I spent a number of years learning how I swim. I’m ok at it. In the pool anyway. When we go away and I swim in the ocean it freaks me out. “What was that?!” “SHARK!!!” There’s never any sharks. The only real thing to worry about is your overactive imagination. For that reason it takes me a few days to relax into sea swimming. My wife is a total natural at it. She grew up swimming in the sea all the time. I’d like to be a natural at it.
Around 2 years ago I saw a video about someone who would swim naked every day in the lakes of Wales. That seemed a level up on everything. Not only where they swimming in random lakes but naked too? A thought developed in my head. I’d like to be the kind of person who does that. Maybe not really but I’d rather be the kind of person who does that than the kind of person who thinks people like that are crazy. I guess I would like to be the kind of person who doesn’t fear living as much as I do.
When we were away in the Netherlands over Christmas I was tempted to join the New Year Day Dive. It’s where a huge number of people all run into the sea to start the new year. Unfortunately I was too ill. But the intent was there.
Last weekend while walking along the prom there was a crowd. They were watching 2 women strip down to swim costumes, one of which was a simple 2 piece, and go for a swim. There was no fear. They simply walked into the River Mersey and swam off. I was in awe of them. I decided there and then that 2020 was the year I took these thoughts seriously. I found a group that meets up every weekend and this weekend I’m taking my first plunge. I hope to do some portraits of people too. There was something so inspiring and yet something so every day about these women swimming in the Mersey. I’d like to try and capture that.
I must admit that I’m a little nervous about tomorrow. I want to be able to do this though.
Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
— From Rainer Maria Rilke’s “Book of Hours”
14 day timelapse of a container ship going around the East Coast of America. YouTube