Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Long Distance Swim

Tomorrow I'm setting off on a long distance swim, heading far from shore and leaving behind the familiar landmarks that I’ve grown accustomed to seeing on my weekly swim sessions over the past few years.

It will mean entering new territory, new water, and as I write these words I am trying to prepare for the unknown, jettisoning my expectations, just wanting to feel the water touch my skin as my arms rise and fall in steady strokes, carrying me forward.

I’m hoping that I’ll be able to stay afloat if I grow tired, that I’ll find a place to rest with people who will offer support in my journey. I’m wondering if I will return with a new story or empty-handed, or if I’ll return at all.

It’s always like that for me at the beginning of a journey. I never know how it will turn out. But I can’t let the not knowing keep me from setting out. Indeed, it’s the not knowing that lures me forward into the deep, pulls me past fears and uncertainty toward the glimmer of possibility that glows on the horizon just beyond my reach.

Each new project, indeed, each new experience in our lives, challenges us to reach beyond what we know and swim toward something that is only a faint glimmer, a faint promise, wavering in front of us.

On some days that glimmer may seem like an illusion, a hallucination that comes after spending so much time in the water. On other days, it may seem as real and solid as a sharp reef that you accidentally scrape with your leg.

Once you decide to leave shore, there is no turning back.

You make preparations. You gather supplies and equipment. Energy bars, check. Notebooks, check. Gel pens, check. Laptop, check. Hope, prayers, faith, check.

The thing about setting off on this long distance swim is that I can’t say when I’m coming back. I know I’ll miss our Sunday morning swims together. But I have to go.

So, tomorrow I’ll dive into the water—perhaps you’ll hear a splash—and begin swimming toward the horizon and hope my luck holds true.

The next time you see a swimmer in the ocean crossing the edge of the horizon, a small speck moving slowly across your line of vision, I hope you’ll wave and send prayers to help keep him afloat.

You never know. That swimmer may be me.

May you swim in health and may your stories continue to keep you afloat as you make your way past the rapids and shoals of writing toward the promise of your own horizon.

Keep the faith, and keep swimming!


Wendy said...

This is one of the most soulful posts I've ever read. May dolphins guide you safely through the waves.

Dianne Ochiltree said...

Beautiful entry today, Bruce. Will be swimming alongside you in spirit...every writer knows the feeling of diving into the unknown. It's in our DNA to test the waters, uncertain of the outcome. Best of luck to you as you embark on your journey. Swim strong!

laurasalas said...

OK, wait. Is this literal or metaphorical? It's beautifully written and captures so much about how I feel at the beginning of a new adventure (writing or otherwise). But...are you really leaving?