Today, I have no need to push off vigorously, plunge violently into the stillness of the pond surface. Instead I raise my hands in prayer position and give thanks before gliding into the mirror of water surrounding me.
Immediately I think about wanting to leave as little a mark in the water earth as possible. I feel as though I am slipping into her cloth, becoming the weave of the water, sliding into the rhythm of the warp and the weft, gently, slowly, luxuriously into the depth of her. I am speaking to Durga. Om Durga. Om Durga. She is with me.
Navigating past a small dingy, two men fishing. Watching their trail of hull water lilt, oar dip and pull. Perhaps their astonishment at lone black clad swimming body.
Past them, I begin to think about being here. I forget the presence. I forget the mantra. This happens as I am imperfect.
The thickness of the cold slow water feels like quick sand around my body. I am strangled in well meaning neoprene which does keep me warm but also adds resistance against movement in the sluggish gel.
My right arm, right lower back start to ache, a familiar ache. Arthritis weakens my shoulder, my lower back.
I am a boat, listing dangerously to the right. I am taking in water. I am sinking. Yet I see the shore, the shore I am making for is slowly getting closer.
That is the shore where Durga often lurks among the trees. So I imagine Durga there, among the trees, and I keep swimming.
Do you know what Durga looks like?
She is the Universal Mother. She rides a lion. She carries a sword. Yet she is compassionate and kind. She has large dark eyes and a smile that speaks peace. That is who I see.
Then suddenly I am in the cove and the green sun beams are dancing below me reflecting off the bottom of the pond.
I put my head up out of water and there are children playing on the shore as if it is mid summer.
And I start my swim back.
Now I have the power of Durga in me. I am suddenly so strong. So sleek. Durga’s lion pawing at the water. Leaping, dancing through air. Rhythm, grace. Water passes under me with such ease I hardly use my legs. I am not breathless.
This is flight. Beyond what I know how to do, yet it seems to be happening to my body and it feels like a wave coming home. I am a wave coming home. I am caught up in the thinking
‘this cannot last, this rhythm, this cannot last,’
but it goes on and on.
The beach is getting closer but is still some distance and I am flying slower. I want to savor this as I am aware of the cold, aware that even though I want to do this forever I know I will not.
I watch the reflections on the water. To my right, the white sun light dancing path, to my left, the dried leaf trees in the mirror.
I stand, face the pond, and put my hands together in prayer position in thanks.