I used to swim, no matter what the weather forecast said. Perhaps not in thunder, but under the grey blankets that rolled out across the sky covering the dome of Walden. Watching for silver light spasming the seams.
But yesterday the sneaking cool that snuck around the curves of my shoulders raising the hairs as they stood guard over my skin, whispered lethargy into me. And the thunder from above voiced its agreement, punctuated by lights which panned the bitumen. I did not make it across the car park before I decided to get back in my car and drive home.
Am I getting older? I asked myself. Am I getting tireder, more fearful, more apathetic?
I know the answer to most of these questions. But it worries me, the fact I am losing grip on what I used to know and succumbing to the ‘can’t be bothered’ attitude.
Today, all morning, I have watched the roof top below my window from the inside of Childrens Hospital. The puddled black asphalt splintered with spears of water dropping from somewhere above where I know the sky must hide. It is both too far up and too small an opening in the life I am living at present to know where.
I thought of Walden. The warm water. I watched my daughter sleep a mask covering her face, just as a swim mask might, but instead it helps her lungs do what my swimmer lungs do every stroke I take. Expand, release.
When I swim, I often think of her. The difficulty she expanding her lungs to hold enough oxygen. I know that feeling. When I am rushing across the pond to get back to her sooner, feeling the skin over my ribs about to snap as I reach into the cracks of them looking for space to fill with more breath.
But when I feel that, a wave like a tsunami pushes up my trachea and out my mouth and escapes in bubbles into Walden and into Walden air.
When my daughter feels it, it is because she is gagging and coughing up, sitting bent over in a hospital bed.
And when I remember how fortunate I am, I overcome my lethargy and plunge into Walden. Grateful I have the lungs to swim across the pond.