So I broke the one rule I had today….that I would not swim if I could not feel the water. I put on divers gloves. It was the right thing to do. Without them, I would not have had the strength in my fingers to grip the zipper to get out of my wetsuit. I know the feeling of directing my fingers to grip. The order sent from the brain, with even a grinding together of the teeth as if that action might somehow influence the useless frozen digits. (It never does.) But with divers gloves, when I slid them and the silk liners off, my index fingers were frigidly white, but they retained enough strength to grip and pull.
But did I break my rule? What is it to feel water?
I found I could feel with not only my hands but all of me. I rolled and lumbered. (I did not feel like silk sliding on velvet today, though the pond surface looked like silent velvet from the beach.) I was unable to tell whether I was moving or marking place and time. And except for regularly breathing into the landline, my body was unmoored in the watery galaxy. There was no gravity. Up and down seemed sideways. Between each breath I drowned.
My sight was gone in to the fog that settled inside my goggles and would not let up as stopping, taking-off-the-gloves-to-clean-them-properly, was just not on. Too cold and too hard to tread water that long, and would I ever get the gloves back on anyway? So I swam.
I swam in order to listen. And if I listened closely, beyond the forced roar of my breath and blow, i could hear the pitch of the gloved hand rising out of and falling into the pond. The plonk plonk of the hand like a child hand striking a note on a xylophone. The sound of Walden playing. The sound of playing Walden.
And at that other, far end of the pond, where the sun turns and becomes my back, I saw splinters of light. I breathed in splinters of light.
It was hard to keep a steady mind on Durga in Walden today. That is what happens as the water gets progressively colder. There is much to adapt to. And much monitoring of the physical body that occupies the mind.
After today, I know the end is coming. I feel the water surrounding me as if I am swimming in gel, like the gel in a reusable ice pack. The kind of gel that you have fun pushing and prodding at and watching slink out from under your relentless fingers just because it feels good to push and prod at it.
Imagine swimming in it though. It doesn’t feel easy and it doesn’t feel freeing.
So I know the Giving Walden Up that I have been dreading for the past couple of months will be upon me soon now. Perhaps one, two more swims. And I can now say…
That’s ok. It’s meant to be.
I like the fact I have to keep at it because I don’t know how to let go, and then suddenly I know how to let go because it’s the thing to do.
**Durga is a Hindu Goddess, the universal mother.